Monster X-ing


kara_icon.gif dumortier_icon.gif

Scene Title Monster X-ing
Synopsis Kara and Rene's patrol hits a little snag, nbd.
Date May 2, 2019


Providence is a small settlement nestled inside the Pine Barren's long shadows that first came into being during the Second American Civil War. Amish families, who had already been living off the grid, banded together within the forest's protective shelter, hoping to wait out the fighting and resume their way of life at the war's end, regardless of the victor. They were joined by others: refugees fleeing from bombed out cities, deserters, and former supporters of both sides ready to set aside their ideologies in exchange for a return to normalcy.

Today, the community covers an area of roughly ten square miles, although its population density is centered around its church and surrounding homesteads, which include family-run sheep and goat farms, a blacksmith, doctor, mill, and a communally farmed cranberry bog. It isn't uncommon to find horses appearing to roam free; closer inspection, through tangles of low, thorny bushes, reveals repurposed barbed wire fencing that keeps the livestock contained.

Residents of Providence who are SLC-Expressive contribute to the community by using their abilities to circumvent many of the obstacles posed by the area's acidic, nutrient-poor soil, allowing them to grow and cultivate crops, redirect waterways, and lay down rudimentary piping for hydraulic wells. Buildings here are a collection of both old and new, repurposed or rebuilt without the aid of an electric grid of any kind. Candles and gas lanterns are more common than lamps, even if diesel-fueled generators are not unheard of among those considered more affluent than most.

The settlement is connected by a winding, interlocked series of pathways and old cement roads in need of repair. Simple signage marks the safe thruways, cleared of land mines and other forgotten wartime hazards, while yellow paint serves as a warning for areas that still harbor some danger — and there are many.

Despite living the life of a vagabond at the moment, Rene has still been doing his part; he's been staying somewhere in town during the interim until he finds his own place. It's harder than he thought it would be— it sounded so easy in his head. The joke about making a treehouse is looking nicer every day that he wakes up on a pew, a floor, a couch. Once, in Arrius' stable. He didn't try that again. Living out of tents and abandoned places on the way out here was different. One or two nights, here and there.

Fortunately, there are things to take his mind away from it, such as signing up for patrols and gladly lending some services around Providence. Small favors. Most to be paid back at a later date. Rene does take it easy on the elderly, at the very least. Discounted favors.

And who can forget, assisting Yi-Min with some of her work. This has let him rekindle relationships that had otherwise been put on hold some time ago. Rene, being himself, has managed well enough there.

"You said there was a bridge here, right?" The day is clear, the air is crisp, the trees are budding— and the patrol Kara has brought Rene along for has hit a snag. He sits atop his horse, leaning on the big beast's neck, hand under chin. Long blonde hair is tied in a loose braid, clothes practical and pack secure around his chest. "I mean, there is a bridge, but,"

Blue eyes dip downward to the wide creek and its low gully, water coasting through the pieces of what was, at one point, said bridge.

Son of a bitch.

It's what most people would say when faced with something like this, but Kara is silent, stoic save for the working of her jaw. She lets one hand slip from the reins so she can roughly rub the side of her face, shaking out some of the bleariness that's entered her eyes for absolutely no reason at all.

"Was sounds like the operative word. You're right." There's no denying it.

"The rain the last few days was bound to make something happen around here. Just wish it weren't this." The river had been running high, running fast, threatening to spill its banks over the last day. Thankfully, it had let up earlier in the morning. Bloated clouds looked ready to let loose another shower, throwing even more disappointment onto the day.

Kara turns to look at Rene with a simple shake of her head. "So?" she asks, something expectant within it. What was his plan for this obstacle?

Rene knows the face. The one. He watches her rub some of the tired from her expression.

"Flash flooding is too common around here." He muses, hands pushing against saddle to sit straight. A tug and nudge against his horse's reins have Arrius sliding down on one knee so that Rene can slide off. Once he's down, the draft ambles back a little, chewing on his bit and nosing sidelong at Kara's mount. Edging up to the bank, Rene peers down the incline to assess it.

"Mmm. I can get the pieces back up here, but that wouldn't be stable…" There's a hesitant laugh when he looks up over his shoulder, turning around in a circle to evaluate the environment. After a few moments of quiet speculation, Rene crouches down on the path and spreads his hands into the dust; the face he makes is not unlike someone concentrating on reaching a cookie jar. "Ah, just a minute. I think I've got a big one."

As if he's just fishing.

Kara arches an eyebrow, still up on her horse. She leans forward as she watches him edge closer to the bank, wondering what his plan is. Whatever it is, it sounds harebrained, possibly ill-thought. "Pieces of…" she echoes back, wondering where he was going with that. When he declares he's got it, there's an upward tick to her brow.

Oh? "You've got what?" she asks, sitting more upright in her saddle, heel digging into the stirrup. This sounded like it could be interesting.

For Kara, a smile, faint, before he stands up; one arm outstretched in a short, upward sweep. The ground buckles from underneath, and a coil writhes its way free into the light. Rene catches a loop of it over his arms, the hefty root like a snake.

"This." Rene chirps back in reply to the woman still on her horse, laughing to himself at the continued slide of root into the open. Less brown towards the end, paler and paler. The end branches into a spray of smaller capillaries; the tiny blonde drops his portion onto the ground and steps back. He approaches the bank again, this time followed by the immense root. Closer inspection shows that it is a conglomerate of them, practically grown together.

"I'll need your help to get this straight." The way the narrowing ends of it twitch and search is a tad unsettling.

Kara usually is nothing but gruff, but there's something about Rene's approach that lightens her own. She swings off the side of her horse, landing as gently as she can to avoid sinking down into the earth more than she needs to. The still-living plant root moving how it does piques her interest. "Don't tell Chris," she recommends idly, patting her horse's side and leaving it to graze on its own. "I think he's still sore over the last time he saw trees move."

It's something that brings the tug of a grin to the corner of her mouth, but then she's right back to business, crouching to help separate the net of roots apart. She's firm, but ginger with the plantlife, like they're snakes rather than treeparts. "What are you figuring?" she asks, though she glances across the running water to the other bank. "Make something new out of something old?" For as conversational as she sounds, her movements are still brusque, even tense. A lot is weighing on her mind.

"But that's the best trick!" Rene responds to Chris' unfortunate hate-on, tipping his head around to Kara as she gets to ground. Does he want to know? Yes. "What happened?" He already knows how Chris can be.

Kara seems to get the jist of the first task by nature, and he's a little glad that she is intuitive enough to keep up. The roots are rather rigid for Kara, but with a bit of elbow grease it's not hard to seperate them. The agrokinetic pulls them apart like noodles. Including the wiggling.

"Oui, bien deviné…" Rene sounds pleased. "Yes, I believe it will work. The pieces are still there, I just need to root them and tie them with these." Some remnants of the bridge are clinging to the banks, though the majority has broken apart into the waterbed.

"Alright…" Small hands work the last few apart to set them neatly in a line. He could always wing it— but having it laid out makes getting everything right that much easier. And the bridge won't be crooked. Rene sits down on the bank with an intense, "I'm going in." and promptly slides down. He says it seriously because he isn't(at the moment).

That will change in a little bit, when he starts flinging chunks of wood out, limbs extended by coils of green plants that grab and toss.

Kara can see it first— Rene is standing in it. A track stamped in the mud, angular and heavy, some other drag marks scored through dirt.

"What happened to Chris?" Kara parrots back only so she can scoff at the end of it. "You know, I still don't know. He was still drunk when he tumbled home after whatever happened to him. Could have sworn he was saying something about plant monsters, though." With a hmph of amusement, she doesn't seem too bothered one way or the other. "For all I know, he fell down in the woods and was mad about it."

But then Rene is heading down the bank to stand in the creek, ready to wade into the running water. She's on her feet, brow twisting with an unspoken bid for him to be careful when she notices the rut he finds himself in.

She's crouching suddenly, looking long up and down the bank to see for similar signs, tension abruptly high. "Rene," she simply says, a note of caution in her voice. She's careful to keep her voice low in her alarm, and turns to look back toward the horses. They would likely be the first to sense if something distasteful was nearby.

Rene barks out a laugh at 'plant monsters'; mind, he is standing down there with pieces of broken planks in the grasp of thick coils of plant. You can call them tentacles if you really want.

"Wooow. Sure sounds like him…" He is aware of her concern when he descends, but after that he's a little busy throwing pieces of bridge up on both sides. It isn't until he hears his name does he turn his attention to Kara again; the note of caution in her voice and the lack of volume have him and his plants freezing in a really bizarre tableau.

Arrius, at least, has zero concerns about what's going on; he is wandering the edge of the bank, plucking weeds with his teeth.

"Okay… I give up, what?" is what comes piping up from the creekbed after a few long, silent moments. Rene carefully sets down the pieces he's still holding onto, squinting up at Kara. There are some other muddy divets in the creek, but considering the direction they seem to have gone, and a lack of anything on the horizon— nothing immediate presents itself.

Her tension eases over time, and instead of an order to come back out, she merely states, "Look." and gestures with the flat of her hand up and down the divots. "I think it's one of them that did this, instead of any debris carried by the river."

Them? "The robots," Kara clarifies grimly. She's seen too many killed and had too close of a call with them herself to refer to them with any less gravity.

She shakes her head quickly and looks back to Rene in his process, unable to marvel as it as peacefully as she was before. "We should be good for now. Still, you be careful down there."

It's clear that whatever she is thinking, she means business, so Rene angles back his joking and instead focuses on her words. Them. He's only heard about Them from the others, not really having wanted to encounter one for real— and yet here he is, standing in the dragmarks of one. The last few hunks of bridge are tossed up, and then those roots aim downward, pushing the agrokinetic upward as if on stilts. Fair brows furrow inward, mouth flattening. Looking from the creek to Kara and back, Rene considers the tracks for himself.

"That is… a lot bigger than I imagined." Rene starts, only to hesitate and change tracks. "I'm done down here…" He gives the prints on the horizon one last look before plopping himself down on the opposite bank. "Do you think we're in any danger right now?" They could always leave and come back, is what he means behind it.

"No less danger than we'd be in if we moved on," is Kara's uncomforting but honest reply. She looks across the bank at him with a small shake of her head, unstanding from her crouch. Her eyes close for a moment, forearm resting on her knee as she lets out an equally-long sigh before opening her eyes again.

"They won't be a concern much longer," she's able to reassure him at least. "We have a plan — it's just a matter of pulling the trigger on it."

In the meantime, though, this was still a reality. The anxiety around the mechanical monstrosity's ability to show up anywhere. "Even if one's nearby, if it's just you and me, we should be fine."

It's not exactly a lie, even if it's meant as a comforting one.

"Mm." She can barely hear his hum from across the clear water, though his features give his thinking mode away. "Trigger, huh? Traps? Or just… shutting it down?" It's conversation, anyway, distracting from his organizing of the bridge chunks. "Should be?" Rene laughs drily. "You won't try to feed me to it, will you?"

"Alright… can you line those pieces up with the plants? And I'll need you to stand there so I don't do this at an angle by accident." The image of wagons and cars sliiiding off comes to mind. "Usually I wouldn't be asking for help," Rene arches a look up to Kara, "but I don't feel like fussing with it more than I need to…"

"Traps," Kara agrees across the water, finding no harm in admitting it. When he brings up the possibility of live bait, one corner of her mouth pulls back in a flat grin. "Come on, Rene, you're so tiny it'd not even be able to chew you." The joke at his expense is made as she slides down onto her side of the bank, steadying the half-weaved pieces by hand. "Being the taller target, I'm sure I'd have to run a little harder than you." Not to mention, she'd be the one shooting at it, in this hypothetical encounter of theirs. When Rene lifts his voice to ask for help, Kara's brow pops up with a note of scoffed acknowledgement.

"Listen, I'm not even helping, you're still doing the heavy lifting here," she drawls languidly as she works on aligning the angle of the bridge pieces and the roots that will now support them. Kara would gripe at the water running against her boots, curled around her angles and up her calf, but she'll hold off on it until the work is done at least. "Which is appreciated," she adds pointedly, looking across the bank at him.

"I'm a bitter, jagged little pill for robots, then. And isn't the adage, 'you only have to outrun the slower person'?" Kara could probably sprint much faster.. Still, he's smiling as he answers her, that little debonair grin. "Plus if I don't get chewed, I can always bust out. Like an action movie. I'll be the next Van Damme."

As Rene seems content to talk himself up, joking as it is, he is still working. He waits patiently for Kara to step in, a laugh in his chest.

"Heavy lifting— see? Next Jean-Claude." Rene extends his arms and allows his tooled roots to escape back into the damp earth; they break out again, curling back over the bank. Concentration brings a glimmer to his eyes — an uncanny one. The planks that Kara is holding level for him are enveloped, though she can see that dead, rotting wood flushing with life again. Grass wilts and weeds droop, even the mossy rocks under Kara's boots dry out. It seems to be enough, as the smaller blonde reaches out and starts beckoning the bridge of mismatched parts towards the other bank. Roots of all sizes, and the larger to brace them.

It does not take long for him to bring the arc of bridge near enough; the boards around his feet shiver to like and take hold in the earth. Connecting the two is a snap, thanks to all the guidance. The result is a calico sort of crossing, different colors of brown, green, splotches of red paint from the busted bridge.

"Good enough, I think."

Rene's humor is enough that Kara lets out a quiet laugh. It's nice to imagine that feisty people like himself are eternal and invincible, even if it requires a suspension of knowledge. Therefore, for practical Kara, her humor is short-lived and she's just as quickly back to scanning for threats either robot or human.

"On a more serious note, do take care out there. Report anything that looks out of place." she states in an absent calm, her voice carrying across the water. "Maybe we'll get lucky and it'll blow itself up on some landmine left over from the war. Maybe the recent intruders will, too."

Kara is frowning again by the time he announces his work done, so she merely nods curtly. "Time to make sure it's good." she decides, swinging herself up onto the newly (re)formed bridge with a grunt. She'll meet him in the middle.

Meet her there he does, complete with a determined pounce into the middle of the bridge. He doesn't weigh enough to be able to properly test it— but for her, he provides a foil. Doink. Give it a jump, Kara. You know you wanna.

"You got it." Rene answers, a serious answer for her serious note. "I'm working on a treehouse, I'll be testing it as a watchtower once I get it polished… if it works out maybe I can help with more." He's going to be needing some help with that polish, but she doesn't need to know that! "Here's to hoping for landmines."

Stomp. Stomp stomp.

Close enough.

Kara shifts her weight after stamping her foot hard into the wood, looking back up to Rene with a satisfied nod. "You know," she remarks with some appreciation, "You're really settling in well out here. Taking things into your own hands to make things work. Make things… homelike."

"I'm glad you joined us," she affirms, placing a hand on Rene's shoulder while looking down at him. "Having you here makes this all feel a bit more…" Kara can only chuckle as she settles on the word "—normal."

Or a stomp, a stomp is fine too. Rene reaches out to smooth down some of the more obvious lumps in the surface- - it is by no means completely flat, but it is serviceable until someone can plank it over. Kara's words get a small laugh out of him, the smile crooked, brows furrowed then arching higher.

"Normal." He echoes, the laugh lingering. The small frame under Kara's touch shifts a little under it in a pleased little sway. Rene brushes his hands off on his jeans, returning her look with that miniature smolder of his. "I've had long enough to learn to adapt… I wasn't always a professional woodsman; I know, hard to believe, right?"

"I'm glad too. It… became quite lonely, when so many of you left."

As funny as their normal might sound to others… Kara was glad for it nonetheless.

“You mean there was a time when you were just a stick that couldn’t move other sticks?” she asks more skeptical than with mock dismay. Perish the thought, honestly. It’s clear she favors him as he is now. She shakes her head and looks off to observe the banks, the rush of the water, the sway of the trees, judge movement in the distance.

It also gives her a moment to chew on his thought. Her jaw rotates. “Bit lonely out here, too,” she confides; voice so quiet it’s nearly overtaken by the sound of nature.

It’s not often she unguards her heart, and while it might be earnestly done, it’s not exactly skillful.

“Let’s move on,” she suggests in a more normal level of voice, turning back to him. “Got the rest of our patrol to get to.”

"I wasn't much of anything til I was," is his only commentary on what used to be.

"Lonely everywhere, if you think about it. Other things make it bearable." Rene lifts his brows to Kara as he sidles past her off of the bridge, wind picking at his hair. Like people, for instance. "I mean, once I find a treant, I'll never be lonesome." A whistle out of him has his draft horse come bouncing back across the grass, head bobbing and short tail flicking. The large nose plants onto Rene's head, and he lifts his hands up to the offending muzzle with a grunt.

"Arrius, stop that." Fingers tugging on reins, Rene gets the horse out of his hair and clicks to have him take a knee. He barely has time to pull himself up onto the saddle before Arrius decides to take him for a prance. "Dieu, we are not playing, we're working."

It's a peaceful sort of interlude between one serious situation and another; Rene tugs the horse's excitement under control after a few more moments of letting him bob his head and scuff his hooves.

"After you, chere."

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