dumortier_icon.gif finn_icon.gif max_icon.gif reena_icon.gif

Scene Title Roberta
Synopsis A few of Providence's citizens go on an unorthodox mission.
Date May 9, 2019

Near Providence

“It’s just up this way. I think. All these damn trees look alike,” Finn says as he drives far too fast — which is normal for him — in the little green Kawasaki Mule, himself and Max in the front seat, Rene and Reena in the back, bouncing along and probably wishing one of them were driving instead.

Bungeed on the back of the little jeep are two empty animal crates.

“Oh, that’s the turn — that’s the tree I hit earlier,” Finn says, pointing at one of the pine trees, a raw scrape in the bark revealing the fresher, lighter one within. A match scrape mars the front of the Mule — the thing has seen better days, thanks to Finn’s penchant for fast driving.

It’s only on account of his ability he hasn’t wrecked the thing.

He takes the turn a bit fast, pushing Rene into Reena. In the distance, a tree taller than the rest can be seen, and he hurtles toward it.

Max is, indeed, in the front seat, and doing that thing that parents do when they’re in the car with their children drive. That is, slamming his foot down here and there on a non-existent brake. Man, if only this was a driver’s ed Mule. Are those a thing? If not, they should be.

“Lord Almighty,” he says as his hand grips the window’s edge when Finn makes a particularly precarious turn. “Hope your luck doesn’t run out one of these days.” His tone is a little dry, and he glances back in the rearview mirror, perhaps to check on the passengers. “If we all get squashed by you runnin’ into a tree again, we ain’t gonna be much help.”

"Votre conduite ne m'a pas manque…" Rene is muttering to himself in the backseat, hands on the door. He still gets bumped into Reena on the turn, despite his efforts. The consolation is that he's small and wearing his seat belt.

"Excuse me." Issuing a half-apology for smushing into Reena's bubble, Rene leans forward as far as he can to take a look- - without sticking his head out of the window. Finn's the lucky duck, not him. "Let me worry about the trees." The blonde can't help a laugh, the bright sound of it mixed with the rumble of tires.

"Jesus Christ, Finn," Reena says, hanging on for dear life as he makes his way through the trees, "who taught you how to drive? And sorry, Max." The latter added as an afterthought, but the apology is sincere. She is grateful for Rene's size when he gets pushed over into her. It could have been worse with almost anyone else in the seat next to her. "You're alright," she says to him at the apology, but there is a relieved sigh when he's able to be back in his own seat. "I'm driving on the way back," she claims, grumpily.

Of course, grumpy does seem to be her default.

“I drive just fine! Never gotten a ticket. Never had an accident… that was strong enough to set off the airbags.” Finn’s probably rearended a few cars in his life, scraped a hydrant or two while parallel parking if this Pine Barrens version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is any indication.

“There,” he says, bringing the Mule to a stop and nodding upward to the tall tree. It’s in one of the white cedars, that’s head and shoulders above the smaller pine trees, so to speak. A couple of smaller cedars are close, though dwarved by a good twenty feet or so. “You see it?”

He reaches into the glove compartment to find the binoculars, passing them back to the backseat. Max knows where to look, having spotted it first on the first ride out. “She’s caught by the collar. Who puts a collar on a fucking bobcat?” He’s angry, green eyes flashing at the unknown culprit. “The kittens are in those bushes,” he says, with a nod to a thick mini forest of bushes. “They’re in a bad state. She’s probably been up there for a day or so.”

“If I meet my Maker today, I’m gonna ask Him what His plan was for lettin’ Finn be the driver every time.” Max does smile at Reena’s words, though, and shrugs. “Been here before,” he says, “but it never ceases to amaze me.”

He looks back out toward the treeline when Finn stops them, though, and he steps out, tipping his head back and shading his eyes with a hand. It’s possible it helps the other two know there to look, following both FInn’s direction and Max’s eyeline. He then turns back toward the Mule and gets out a package, unwrapping it to reveal some milk in a bottle and a shallow bowl. “I’m gonna lay this down while y’all figure out the rescue operation.”

On his turn with the binoculars, Rene is already hopped out of the quad; he finds the cat quickly enough, her fur contrasted against the reddish bark and green leaves. After that, he scopes downward before holding out the binoculars to whoever is closest. After shedding his leather jacket into the backseat, a hand waves to Finn.

"Are you with me, lucky duck?" He doesn't wait, though- - he approaches the base of the trees with a craned neck, one hand working fingers into the vertical grooves in the bark. A moment of searching at his feet, and Rene picks up a couple of pinecones and shoves them into his pockets before looking back upwards along the length of the old growth. "Bonjour, vieille fille." Hope you like visitors.

The moment the mule stops, Reena is out. Solid ground. While Rene has a look, she pulls a pair of thick leather gloves out of her pockets and slips them on. "Can you get me up there, Rene?" She lives and works with animals and seems to have assumed that she would be the one sent up to touch an angry, trapped, tired bobcat. She takes the binoculars, taking a moment to find the cat among the branches. "Poor things," she says, not just of the mother, but the kittens, too. "We'll get her down."

“I bought the Mule. That’s why I get to drive it,” Finn says merrily, waving off their worries. He follows Rene at his direction, squinting up at the cat. “We’ll be up in a minute, Roberta,” he calls up.

He’s named the thing.

When Reena comes close, he looks at her with puppy-dog eyes that plead for her to fix this problem.

“Good man,” he tells Max as the preacher makes his way to the kittens. The trio are small but not quite newborn; their eyes are open and they mew at him, clumsily pawing over each other to see what the stranger has for them, their noses picking up the scent of milk. They’re too small to know to be afraid.

He glances to Rene, then Reena. “If we can’t get up there, we can try the helicopter…”

Somehow that probably won’t go over very well with the cat.

Max heads over to the group of kittens, though he doesn’t get too close — just close enough that they can see what he’s doing. He opens the bottle, setting the dish down and pouring the milk inside, then pushing it even a little closer. “Come on,” he says quietly, “here you go. Mama’s gonna be down here in a bit.”

He moves back a little bit, still crouched down before he straightens up again at an appropriate distance away, so as not to disturb the kittens more than he already has. One dish of milk probably won’t make them dependent on humans, but still. “If we can’t get her down, we can’t,” he says, glancing over to Finn. “Ain’t worth disturbin’ more things to maybe not even get done what we want to get done.”

"Finn, no helicopters." Rene should not have to say this, and yet. He knows how Finn is, though, with that heart two sizes too large. "It is not a problem." This to Reena, as he bellies up to the cedar. Though tall, it has a lot of branches, fanning outward as they do, tangled against the other trees. Considering the plane of the trunk, Rene's contemplation comes to an end as the ground shifts under his feet, and a tangle of snakelike roots pushes him up enough so he can jump and grab a lower branch. He's no acrobat, but he's a spectacular tree climber.

Another show of this comes as he folds his legs over the branch and hangs down, hands on the trunk. A few small stretches of young growth stems out of the old tree, green and springy, but enough to provide Reena some handholds. Rene will only drag her up if he has to.

"Don't hurry," Rene says, as he folds back up onto his perch and starts an ascent like he has been in this cedar a thousand times. In his wake, some more of those new growths where there needs to be, stubby yet budding.

Reena doesn't appear to need to be dragged. She takes to the handholds with the skill of endless summers spent at similar pursuits— although it has been a while since she indulged. She's steady enough to make her way up. The advice is taken, though, and she doesn't hurry, making sure she's not going to fall or break off something before she moves upward.

She does not comment on the helicopter. Perhaps she assumes her opinion on this is obvious.

"Don't worry," she says to the pair on the ground, "we'll get her free and she'll probably make her way down herself. Just don't get in her way." She's prepared to help the cat, but she does assume it would rather a short interaction with the group.

“Oh, my God, people, I was kidding,” Finn says when they all tell him the helicopter is not an option. He adds wide eyes and a shake of his head, as if he can’t believe they’d think he’d ever suggest something dangerous and over-the-top for such a task.

He would.

He blows out a low whistle at Rene’s use of his ability, then watches the two climb up toward the cat. “Be careful. And maybe ready to, uh, break your fall with a nice cushion of ivy or something.”

His eyes dart back to the kittens and then over to Max. “Church could use a mouser, am I right?” But before he can be lectured about leaving wild animals in the wild, he puts up his hands. “I’m kidding.

Max doesn’t reply — just turns to give Finn a look with a raised eyebrow, though his lips do twitch a little bit. He holds the straight face admirably, however, and turns back to the kittens. They’re coming to check out the dish a little bit warily, but once one starts to drink, the other ones follow suit, and he sits back a little bit on his heels with a sigh that sounds at least a little bit like relief.

“Well, that’s taken care of,” he comments, before he turns back to the others — seems for the moment he’s going to leave the actual getting down of the cat to the other three, as long as the plan doesn’t involve helicopters or chopping it down or something.

Rene just shoots Finn a scoff and a Look before focusing on his ascent; he only takes a cursory look to Reena to make sure that she isn't having any issues with handholds. No concerns there once he makes sure. After a time he can't hear anyone on the ground, craning his head around to survey the top part of the tree. The cat is easy to find after holding still for several seconds. Likely she is tired of the struggling.

As he nears she does issue a noise at his presence, a garbled growl that has Rene stopping and perching himself on a branch.

"This is about as close as I want to get… you're the expert, chere." Blonde hair wisps around his cheeks as the wind plucks them up. "Don't worry about falling." Rene shows her a smile, reaching out to press slender fingers into the grooves of bark once more. He is quiet as he works, concentration on the sturdiness of branches upwards.

Reena pulls herself within arm's reach of the bobcat, leather gloves guarding when the animal bites and claws at her. But she's quick, fingers reaching for the collar to unlatch it from the animal. Once it's off, she moves away, untangling the collar from the tree. Probably to toss it away properly later. She seems to trust that the cat will find its own way down, but she lingers up in the tree until she starts to move. Just in case she's too weak to do it herself.

"They're clear of the kittens, right?" she asks Rene, rather than looking herself. Being up here is fine, but she's not looking down.

Once it's clear that the bobcat can find her way down, Reena starts to work her way back down as well.

The poor feline is dehydrated, but still full of piss and vinegar, hissing and arching up when they near. Once she’s clear, though, she scrambles a little lurchingly to the trunk to make her way down. One foot seems injured, and when she gets to the ground it’s clear she favors it, even as she makes her way to the den of kittens as quickly as she can.

She slows when she sees Finn and Max, who are out of the way, giving them each the side eye as she skulks past them at a slower pace, before rushing the rest of the way to the kits.

Finn looks up to Reena and Rene still up in the tree with a beaming look of gratitude, before he glances over at Max. “You think she’s okay?”

Max watches the proceedings mostly impassively — we say mostly, because there is a little bit of concern for how it’s going to turn out. When things seem to be going all right, though, his shoulders relax very slightly, and he gives Rene and Reena a thumbs up as he steps away even a little further away when the bobcat mother starts hurrying past to her kittens.

He watches for a second, before turning to Finn with a nod. “Think so,” he confirms. “Guess we can’t be sure, but seems okay. Kittens were all drinkin’, too, so that’s good. We did what we could.”

On the other hand, Rene has no problem craning around to look down at the ground; vertigo doesn't seem to be an issue for him.

"They're fine, no bobcat mauling ahead." He tilts his head to watch Reena's footholds as she starts back down, remaining on his perch until she gets past his level. When they get nearer to the lower branches, a thick coil of root crests the dirt like a serpent, arching up to provide a landing for feet. Just go on and jump.

"Hopefully her paw is fine…" Rene says before he hops down, landing light and glancing after Reena.. "Maybe just a sprain…?"

Reena nods to Rene's report, then starts to move downward. She's more careful coming down than she was going up and she lets out a heavy, relieved sigh when her feet hit solid ground.

"We can come back and check on her in a few days. If she lingers here, it might be more serious. But I suspect she can take care of herself now." There's evidence of it in a few scratches that made it past her gloves. "Herself and the kittens," she adds, with a half-smile in Finn's direction. She comes over to put a hand on his shoulder. "You did a good thing, Shep." And then, that hand is held out, palm up, in front of him. "Keys?"

It’s a heartwarming sight, despite the worries about how the mother will fare. Roberta has made her way back into the den and the mews of the kits are hard to ignore as they clamor for and clamber on their mother in their demanding kittenish way for attention, milk, and their mother’s love. She begins to clean them with her rough tongue, though keeps an eye on the assembled humans nearby, just in case they make any sudden moves.

“Oh! I brought her some chicken!” Finn recalls, moving to the back of the Mule to pop open a cooler. Luckily there’s not live chickens in there, but instead some leftover rotisserie he thought to bring, along with a pan and a water bottle for the dehydrated feline.

After setting these a little away from the kittens’ den, he looks at Reena like she has betrayed him merely by asking to drive, but she and Rene scaled up fifty foot of tree for a mission of his, after all.

“Fine,” he heaves out a sigh, placing the keys in her hand. “But I reserve the right to criticize. And I get shotgun.”

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