The Emotional Lives of Animals


caliban_icon.gif carrie_icon.gif corbin_icon.gif minea_icon.gif veronica_icon.gif

Scene Title The Emotional Lives of Animals
Synopsis Company agents Minea, Corbin, Veronica and Carrie investigate reports of gunfire a short distance from Fort Hero.
Date August 26, 2009

Camp Hero State Park

Camp Hero State Park comprises over four hundred acres of virtually untouched woodlands — featuring oaks, beeches, pines, cedars, native dogwood, and mountain laurel — wetlands, and ocean bluffs. A handful of roads cut across the parkland, providing access to a multitude of trails — permitting hiking, biking, and horseback riding alike. Winter snow allows seasonal cross-country skiing; in warmer months, it is a common picnic destination; the park has its very own baseball field in the northwestern corner. Anglers, surfers, and shell-collectors also frequent the beaches.

During the Second World War, with German U-boats threatening the East Coast and Long Island, it was not uncommon to hear the report of gunfire around Montauk Point. Camp Hero, after all, was not only used as a training facility but as a target range as well, with weapons being fired at offshore targets.

That was over half a century ago. These days, the crack of a rifle is something to be concerned about, which is why Bob Bishop has sent a team into the state park to investigate sightings of several armed men prowling around a beech grove roughly half a mile from the facility's perimeter. The razorwire fence that surrounds the Montauk Air Force Station is barely visible in the distance through the trees, their ashen bark flaky and peeling, which gives the forest an almost skeletal appearance, saplings protruding from the damp earth like fingers stripped of skin and flesh.

Sunlight streams down through the branches, illuminating the grove, but apart from the birds flitting between the trees and the occasional tic of something rustling beneath the debris underfoot — mice, most likely — they are alone with the breeze tickling the leaves.

A not bad team when you get down to it. Mostly mundanes with.. wait, no.. no evolved agents at all. Nice Bob. Wanting to make a statement about how you don't need a power to deal with everything? Minea had been sussed out, given the task, given the names of others and they had all assembled in the park with their own weapons. "Look for casing, evidence on tree's, anything that looks suspicious"

Minea's checking her own weapons, sliding her company issued handgun on the holster at her hip. No hiding them today. She's not standing and talking, they're walking. No wasting time. Get this sorted out quick as possible. See if they don't have to scare the shit out of some teenagers with their daddy's hunting rifles.

Not a single Evolved Agent. Who'd have thought it? Corbin sticks near the women in the team, checking his weapons quietly. He's dressed up more than usual, in a suit, with his press badge hidden under his jacket. Causes a small lump there, but he's keeping it close. He has a drive back to town and a conference to attend tonight. At least he does if he avoids getting shot. His clothes are a little bulkier than normal, a vest perhaps.

"We're sure this isn't an antsy agent shooting at squirrels?"

Trudging along, Veronica pays attention to the brush and looking for footprints. She bends to examine something that catches her eye on a certain piece of a shrubbery, glancing up at Corbin. In contrast, she's in loose khaki cargo pants, hiking boots, and a t-shirt, her gun harness strapped on top of the gray cotton fabric. "I already checked with Lu, before anyone assumes it was him," the agent says with a smirk, as she stands and begins walking again. After all, it is the sort of thing people would assume of her partner.

"Might be. I still say the little shits took my cellphone." Carrie comments blandly, hand guns in her holsters, tranq at her back, and a shot gun held in her hands. "So I wouldn't might taking a few pot shots at them myself." She's dressed in her old BDU pans and boots, with a black t-shirt tucked into it. Her black hair pulled back into a braid. " Her eyes scan the ground before her as she walks along.

It's Veronica's attentiveness that pays off, although it isn't footprints that she finds in the dirt or anything snagged in the shrubbery. As she bends down, dead leaves crackling beneath her weight, a twig straining under the pressure exerted by one of her feet, she catches sight of something through the bushes. Not two hundred yards from where Minea is at the head of the group, a sliver of sun glints off a piece of metal and draws her attention to the shape of a man dressed in a heavy jacket bearing the M81 Woodland camouflage pattern — if it weren't for the way light plays off the rifle in his hands, she wouldn't even see him at all.

Like a tiger whose stripes allow him to swim seamlessly through a river of sawgrass, the hunter — at rest — remains so still that the branches around him are more animated than he is, their leaves quivering in the late afternoon breeze. When he does move, all that's involved is the twitch of a solitary finger.

A gunshot rings out and a split second later a flock of grackles, their wings glistening blue-black, explodes into the sky as one. None of the agents feel the sting of a bullet grazing their flesh or punching through muscle. Wherever the hunter was aiming, it wasn't in their general direction.

"Get down," Veronica says suddenly, her voice urgent and authoritative. But the gunshot's already covering up her voice, making her warning redundant. "Gunman, two o'clock," she says, pulling out a pair of field binoculars and bringing them to her eyes. "Not shooting at us." She lifts one hand to point in the general direction. "Anyone see anymore?" She begins to scan the woodland, trying to find any others.

Minea's already crouching, taking personal inventory of herself and ascertaining that she's not got another accidental hole in her. Not like she has any more ovaries for anyone to take. Her face turns to Veronica's 2 o'clock, and her own gun comes out. "Sir or Ma'am. My name is Agent Dahl. Please put you're weapon down, your hands up and come away from your hiding spot. We want to have a discussion with you. If you have any companions, please, I urge you to do the same" Because we all have guns and at least two of us have no qualms shooting you if you don't. Minea keeps an eye on the aforementioned 2 o'clock, waiting for movement from her hidden spot.

From his rather quick 'get down' position, Corbin briefly checks himself over with his hands, just once, before pulling out his pistol. They all have weapons, though he might be one of the ones who would aim a shot at legs or shoulder instead of a vital area if he had the choice. In comparison to the Agent Dahl, he keeps his voice low, talking to those close to him, not the gunman, "If he's not shooting at us, he has to be shooting at something— do you think it was those birds?"

"Holy hell.. " Carrie mutters from her crouched position. She glances at the other making sure they are okay, an amused look give to Corbin as he pats himself down. "Your alive." She assures him, while bringing her shotgun up to her shoulder, as she does a small turn in her kneeling position to check for others. "Probably nothing but hunters," she mutters a bit irritated at the thought.

In one fluid motion reminiscent of a stretching feline, the hunter slings his rifle over his shoulder by its leather strap but does not swivel toward the sound of Minea's voice. Instead, he reaches into his jacket pocket and produces a package of cigarettes which he then thumbs open. Peeling back the gold foil, he says plainly in a voice loud enough to span the distance between them, "I hope you're quite happy, Agent Dahl." Two slender fingers select a cigarette from the package. "Your band of intrepid adventurers just cocked up the cleanest shot I've had all afternoon. What can I do for you?"

"I won't be happy until you can produce a hunting permit sir and any affiliated paperwork with your weapons. Are you alone sir?" There's a motion with Minea's hands for the others to fan out, look for anyone else if the answer is affirmative. "What are you hunting for sir?"

Veronica nods to Minea's hand gesture and begins to move, keeping low, her eyes scouring the area from behind binoculars, her other hand on her loaded weapon. "Hope we don't get shot by someone playing Teddy Roosevelt, or worse, Dick Cheney. Should have remembered to wear a bright orange poncho," she mutters, heading toward the west.

"You don't get shot at that often in the archives," Corbin says quietly over at the women who seem to be more than capable at handling questioning the hunter. Standing up, he continues to hold his gun, remembering to turn the safety off as he moves away in the fanning out way as ordered. While he's still close to the one heading west, he adds with a smile, "At least you were right, Vee— it wasn't your trigger happy partner." There's a moment's pause as he starts to veer away, to better check out the other areas and keep an eye out for other hunters. While he walks he asks himself outloud, "Is hunting even allowed out here?"

There is a firm nod from Carrie as she moves away from the others, sweeping the area slowly, her shotgun turning where her head does. "Don't worry, I'm sure you'll get plenty of chances to get shot at, I'm sure." She moves around bushes and smirks at Vee's words. "Well, I get shot, I'm shootin' back. Klutzy politician or not," she mutters under her breath.

The hunter snuffs out his match after his cigarette has been lit and flicks it into the underbrush. "I'm alone," he assures the agents in a tone that isn't any more amicable but is at the very least sincere. Either the reports of multiple men were incorrect, he's an effective liar, though a cursory sweep of the surrounding area suggests the former. To Corbin, he offers a toothy smile, all incisors and canines. "It is if you have a special permit issued by the State Department of Environmental Conservation." As he speaks he unfolds a piece of paper that had previously been nestled somewhere in his jacket's interior and holds it out in offering, his eyes on Minea. "Feral dogs, Agent. They've been putting a dent in the local wildlife, but I think I've discovered something much more interesting in the interim if your people would like to take a look? It's outside my experience, I'm afraid."

Minea strides forward a step then two so that she can calmly take the paper, look over the permit. Habitual to look over documents too closely at times. "Why don't you direct us to it Mr… Caliban" It looks real, feels real, so the paper is refolded and passed back over. "Thank you for your co-operation. You understand we're just doing our job. Lets go see this thing that you think we'll have an interest in"

Veronica sees nothing to the west, now out of earshot from Minea and the hunter, having moved several yards to scout the area. Nothing this way. She glances back to see the others, and speaks into the microphone they wear. "Clear to the west," she murmurs, though her binoculars continue to scan the area, now to the northwest.

"Clear to the south-west too," Corbin says, into the microphone, but he doesn't sound quite as sure with himself. Shifting around he pulls out the binoculars and continues to check, scanning toward the south as well. He glances back toward Minea, catching enough to know there's something they might want to see out there. He doubts it's the Montauk Monster—

"Clear." Carrie murmurs, as she returns to Minea and the hunter. She eyes the man suspiciously, even after pulls out the paper. The mention of seeing the object, she gives a shrug of her shoulder. "Might as well have a look," the shotgun rests on her shoulder. "We're out here." She glances at the other agents. "What's it gonna hurt?"

They don't have to go far. Caliban, because that is the hunter's name according to his paperwork, takes several steps toward a shrubby cluster of dogwood, its white blooms edged pink with blood, and pulls out a carcass from inside the gnarled branches by its feet. It could pass for a porcupine at first glance, its back covered in barbed quills coated with thick plates of keratin, but its body is too elongated, too lanky to belong to a rodent. Opposable digits tipped with centimeter long claws give the creature's hands and feet a vaguely human appearance along with its flat face and glassy black eyes. It's the lifelessly dangling prehensile tail, however, that provides the agents with the biggest clue.

"I think it's a monkey," says Caliban.

"Fuck me. First the bloody Montauk Monster" There's a glance to Corbin. "What the hell is plum island doing out there?" Minea crouches down to look at the animal in question. First, overgrown squirrels getting into sealed bunkers and now.. porcuponkeys? "Sawyer, call up Fish and wildlife will you? Ayers, seen anything like this before? Heard of it?" There's a glance from the woman up to Caliban. "Seen any of these around here before, or is this the first time?" There's a poke with her pen, plucked from her jacket pocket so that she can poke at the animal and see if it got shot at.

Veronica moves closer, nose wrinkling as she looks at the strange creature. She pulls out her cell phone and takes a picture, so she can send it to the people she calls, if need be. "Okay to send the image, or just query?" Vee asks Minea. "Wonder if it's from some crazy experiment they used to do here. Island of Doctor Moreau shit or something. Cross-species experimentation? That is one ugly hedge monkey."

"Nothing that fits that description," Corbin says, as he abandons his search of the south to move back over and get a closer look. "And I did looking after all those Montauk sightings. This looks different, though…" Mix of a monkey and a porcupine? "And I think radiation poisoning is just as likely as experiments, anyway," he adds as he puts his gun away and focuses all of his attention on the quills and the tail— the long claws, the face… As Veronica takes a picture, it wakes him up a bit, reaching to pull out his cellphone so he can do the same.

There is a slight tilt of Carrie's head as she looks at the — the thing. Her brows lower as confusing fills her face. "What the hell is that thing? Looks like a candidate for Barnum and Bailey's freak show." She crouches next to Minea, "What all was this place before? I mean… geez. Look at that thing. Next thing you know we'll be fishing multi-eyed fish out of the water." She reaches out and pokes at it, carefully of course.

"Not until this morning," Caliban explains to Minea, gesturing to the carcass with his free hand. The blood has long since coagulated. Rigor mortis, too, has set in. "I mistook this one for a cross I'd been tracking. Compared to the size of the others that came nosing around after, I'm guessing that it's either a young adult or older juvenile." He inclines his chin, gesturing to a thicker patch of trees in the opposite direction that Minea's team emerged from and the general area Veronica saw him aiming at earlier. "There are four or five more hiding out in the brush," he adds, "but that's just an estimate. A family group if their behavior means anything, and I'm certain it does. They keep coming back for the body."

Minea looks up at Caliban. "Do you know who else might have been out here shooting? There were reports of shots fired a few days ago as well"

Veronica nods, and dials up the number. "Hi, Murrillo. Vee Sawyer. Promise not to laugh. Do you guys have any reports or any knowledge or even just anything in your data base, of sort of creature, obviously exotic, that looks like some sort of monkey but has, like, porcupine quills on it?" she asks, already beginning to move with Castillo toward the area Caliban indicated. "I said don't laugh. And no, it doesn't appear to be a hoax. No, can't tell you where. Just check to see if you've had any reports or anything in your files."

"Tell them to do a google search if nothing comes up. See if we've already got Montauk Monster fans saying this is the new one," Corbin says in Sawyer's direction as he moves closer to Minea, putting his phone away. He still took a picture, for himself if nothing else. "So you shot it thinking it was one of those feral dogs? And that's what you were shooting at when we made our way here? Any reason to believe they're harmful or— unusually intelligent? Admitedly I never was much a hunter. Is that kind of behavior normal?"

"Sure thing Dahl." Carrie says lightly as she straightens, moving with Sawyer towards the grouping of trees Caliban has indicated. The shotgun isn't brought up, she doesn't exactly feel in danger. She can't help but chuckle when she hears Veronica on the phone. "Gotta admit, you'd be laughing, too, if you hadn't seen it." Carrie searches the trees as she reach the area in question.

While Veronica is on the phone chattering away with Murrillo at Fish and Game, who insists that what she's describing is probably a raccoon with mange, Caliban slides a sideways glance in Corbin's direction and arches one blond brow. He gives no verbal response. Doesn't need to. Not when he can demonstrate.

An underhanded toss lands the carcass in a pile of brittle leaves halfway between the point he indicated and the cluster of beeches where he and the Company agents are standing. At first, nothing happens, but after a few moments of relative silence have passed, a face framed by linen white dogwood blossoms appears in the underbrush. As promised, the adult is noticeably larger than the dead specimen sprawled out on the forest's floor, and is soon joined by two others, one with an infant clinging to its belly, creeping their way down from the trees. Their motions are slow, tentative.

Caliban does not go for his rifle. "In Africa," he whispers, "elephants mourn their dead, bury them in sand and return to the grave site years later. The Malagasy people have their tradition and word for it. Famadihana. The turning of bones. What's your definition of intelligent? Normal?"

Minea watches it all unfold before her eyes. "Sawyer. Castillo. Hold up. hang up" It's not barked out, but just called out loud enough for them to hear. That's a really strange looking animal, but of late, a lot of things have been strange. She glances to Caliban as he relates the story of Elephants in Africa. That coupled with his tale of them trying to get to the body. "Corbin, help me with it. Sawyer, turn the camera on on your phone. Same with you Castillo. We can have someone sent out later to study these guys" Down she crouches one more, caring not for the fact that she's about to grab a dead animal. "We'll take it over to that bush. If they take it, they take it. If they don't, we'll find a place to bury it"

"No, it's not a raccoon, Murrillo. You don't think I know what a raccoon looks like? This is simian, I promise. I even passed science class in high school, you might be shocked to know." She likes Murrillo and he knows she was this close to going to med school. "And no, it's not the Montauk monster. Do me a favor and see if there's anything else." She's now under the trees and she watches with wide dark eyes as the live monkeys begin to creep toward their lost comrade. "Wow, that's… spooky. And sad," she whispers. She brings up her cell to begin recording the footage of the Simian funeral procession of sorts.

"I was more wondering if they were dangerous," Corbin says quietly, reaching into his pockets to put some gloves on. Probably had them in case they needed to pick up evidence to avoid getting prints on it, but now he's using it so he doesn't have to actually touch the poor thing. Stepping over, he looks between Minea and the corpse and then the creatures. "I really hope those quills don't shoot out like in some crazy movie," he mutters, before he takes the order and bends down to grab an area where it doesn't look like he'll get stuck with quills.

Even as she is told to hold up, Carrie freezes in place at the sight of a real like specimen. She glances back at Dahl with a nod. The shotgun is tucked against her side as she fishes out her own phone so that she can record the prickly monkey's movements. "You see the baby?" Carrie murmurs to Vee who's standing next to her. "I suddenly feel…. like I'm.. I dunno invading on a private moment. I mean, how would we feel if someone was filming us if we're mourning a loved one." She watches Corbin approach the dead body. "Careful there, Corbin. I don't want to have to hold your hand through rabies shots or having to help pull out quills." She gives him a grin to show she's joking with him.

The creatures stiffen as Minea and Corbin move forward, claws digging into bark and dirt, a shimmer of tension passing through the group. Rather than retreat, the family opts to hold its ground, all eyes on the agents. The tip of one tail flicks from side to side in what might be a display of aggression or irritation.

"Careful," Caliban cautions. "That's someone's baby."

"We're all someones's baby" Minea answers back. She stays low, making her body not as tall, not looking directly at the porcuponkey's as she gently moves their family member closer to them. "The movie was Critters and they were a ball of quills, no tails Corbin" Every so closer, they inch till she's as close as she frankly dares, arms length and a half and carefully rests the creature down, waiting for Corbin to do the same. "Back away slowly Ayers, don't look them in the eye"

"They're so much like us, it's creepy, monkeys. We're like 98 or 99 percent identical to chimpanzees, you know? Genetically speaking. These aren't as close to us - well, especially considering the porcupine spines - but they're still so … humanoid." Veronica stands still to keep from spooking the daring and forlorn creatures as they watch the corpse being moved. "Crazy. I wonder if it is radiation poisoning or any of the governmental testing stuff they used to do around here. "

"That's really helpful, Dahl, thanks," Corbin says, sarcasm clear in his voice as he looks a little paler than normal the closer they get. No problem with looking them in the eye, cause he's watching his feet and sets the corpse down with begins to back away. Slowly. One thing's clear, he can follow orders, even when he wishes he had ignored the first one. "I wonder if all the animals in this area are going insane." The Montauk monster was a prank! Surely Flora can't be behind all of this!

"I remember watching something on PBS when I was a kid, about something like that." Back when Carrie was a kid PBS was the station you watched the cool nature stuff on, along with Sesame Street. "Looks more like mad scientist testing if you ask me." She murmurs as she watches. "You know that this means Corbin? First mutant squirrels.. Now smart Monkey things. Next will be something really big and nasty. Probably some ssort of rabid bear… thing."

The lead creature — family patriarch or matriarch, it isn't clear which — resumes its crawl as soon as Minea and Corbin are beginning to back away. A low growl bubbles up from its throat, but this is the full extent of its vocalizations. Gathering up the carcass in its arms the same way a parent might cradle a sleeping child, it pulls the juvenile into its chest, breathes its scent in deeply through its nostrils and then, without warning, springs up into the lowest branch of a nearby tree and clambers out of sight on swift claws. Its two companions follow a split second later in a blur of sable and gray movement, gone.

'See, no harm. No quills" Minea eases back up into a standing position. She runs her tongue over the front of her teeth. "Mr. Caliban, how long are you going to be hunting around here for?" There's a nod for everyone else, good job, no deaths, maiming, or large doses of radiation. It's A-Okay.

"All right. I'll see if I can find anything on the computer that's similar to this, maybe call Murrillo back, though he clearly thinks I'm insane," Veronica says with a shake of her head. Her eyes go to the hunter and she nods to him and then gives a wave to the others. "Got an appointment in the city in an hour or so, so I need to head out now." She holsters her weapon and sticks the phone in the pocket of her cargo pants and begins to walk back toward the base's buildings.

"All in one piece— with no new holes," Corbin admits, once he's a good enough distance away and can stop backing off. He watches the creatures quietly, with a kind of fascination at how they treat their juvenile. "Oh don't even mention some kind of bear thing," he mutters quietly, not liking the idea at all. There are worse ideas. Like landsharks. "I do want a copy of that video later," he adds to Vee. "I promise not to sell it to the tabloids." Fake stories, sure, real ones? No way.

Following the movement of the animals, Carrie finally stops recording and tucks the phone away. "That is so cool. It's eerie to watch." There is a small smirk from Carrie. "Someone make sure to tell, Denton. I think he'll be out here trying to make a pet of one." She finally tears her eyes away from the foliage. "I think we need to make sure people stay away from here. We got some extra fencing laying around you think? Be a shame to have more people coming to kill more of them."

"Another week or two, give or take a few days," is the answer Caliban has for Minea. He blows smoke through his nostrils and, tired of murmuring words around a stained filter, removes the cigarette from his mouth. "Might try the other side of the park where the white-tails are. I didn't come here for chupacabras." Or whatever the monkey-like creatures are. "Is there anything else you need from me, Agent Dahl, or am I free to go?"

Minea's raising a brow at everyone. So casually discussing the fort and it's active status in front of.. someone who's name is ringing a bell. "Head back to your vehicles, I'll call it in and report to our superiors. Mr. Caliban. Yes, just want to grab a number we can reach you at in case something comes up in regards to what occured. After that, you are more than welcome to carry on with your hunt. I hear the deer are jsut flourishing this year. Though, you were hunting wild dog weren't you?"

A hand goes up almost as if to salute, but it looks far more like a wave from Ayers than anything else. He immediately starts to move away towards the vehicle, looking down at his watch after he removes his gloves to put them away. No more words from him with that eyebrow raising.

There is a shrug from Carrie at the order and she casually turns to join Corbin in trek out of there. "What do you think they eat?" She murmurs to the paper pushing agent, her shotgun cradled in her arms.

Caliban flashes Minea a feline grin. "What do you think the dogs eat?" he asks. There's an exchange of information, business card fished out from the bottomless confines of his jacket and passed across to Minea — in the end, it's more than just a number unless she wants to include his office's address under that particular umbrella. Either way, he's checking his rifle a few minutes later and moving off in the direction of the nearest road that isn't paved with dirt, his hunt quashed for the day.

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