Characters in this post
View character profile for: Cassandra Jones
View character profile for: Jay Chrysler
View character profile for: Jaxx/Bif Biggles (Away)
"Why..." Cass huffed, her voice tight from exertion "Why are we running?"
She and Jay were crashing through the undergrowth together.
"I've no idea" Jay gasped as he slowed his pace to a trot; the two of them, by unspoken mutual agreement, eventually coming to a halt beneath one of the tree-ferns, towering high overhead. The scent of sap was ripe and sweet in the air and an innumerable number of alien creatures chirruped and croaked around them.
For a moment, neither spoke while they struggled to catch their breath.
"I was following you" Jay said eventually
"And I was following you" Cass retorted "We were providing covering fire for Jaxx by the module when you just broke and ran"
"No, that was you"
"No" Cass shook her head emphatically "Our weapons worked near the module. Why would I want to go running off out here?"
They lapsed back into silence.
"Fuck" Jay groaned after a moment
"Yeah" Cass grimaced "We just abandoned Jaxx, didn't we? Do you think he's okay?"
"It's something of a concern"
"I suppose we should go back and try to find him"
Jay nodded and turned to gesture vaguely behind them "It's this way"
Raising her eyebrows, Cass regarded the verdant riot of greenery surrounding them on all sides. Insects whined. "You reckon?"
"Yeah" Jay sounded mildly offended, although his expression said otherwise "You don't get to be Robin Hood without picking up a few woodland survival skills, you know"
"Oh. Of course" Cass nodded demurely and stepped past him "How silly of me"
Jay watched in amusement for a moment as she pushed her way through the foliage and almost immediately lost her way amid the tangle of branches and began making her way up a low rise that they hadn't come down before. He shook his head and followed her in beneath the riot of greenery "It's this way" he called, making her scowl and turn to trudge back down towards him.
"Fine. You lead"
Flashing her a wry smirk, Jay moved away through the undergrowth, retracing their route with skilful ease while Cass followed grumpily in his wake.
They continued in silence for a few minutes before she piped up again "What do - " Cass managed before Jay suddenly wheeled, a finger raised to his lips to indicate silence and grabbed her by the hand to pull her away into a dense thicket and down into a crouch.
For a few breathless minutes, all that could be heard was the chirp and whine of the jungle around them. Cass shifted her weight, inciting a sharp look from Jay and a shake of his head when twigs suddenly snapped somewhere nearby in the undergrowth, making Cass start and curl further back into the shadows; the cacophony heralding the arrival of another Haruk mounted on a triceratops a few moments later.
Crouched out of sight, they watched as the huge beast lumbered past, a few metres from them. Braces of dead Ssala swung from metal hooks attached to the rear of the saddle, their bloodied, grey limbs swinging limply with each of the creature's great, rolling steps.
Mercifully undetected, they waited another four or five minutes after the sound of cracking twigs and branches had finally receded, before they dared to move.
"This place is crawling with Haruk" Jay murmured "We need to be careful"
"I can't fault that logic" Cass blew out a low sigh and swung herself down to sit on the ground.
Brushing the dirt off her hands, she stretched her legs out in front of her and looked up at Jay "Do you ever wonder what it would be like to do normal stuff?
"You know: eat in a nice restaurant that's not staffed by rats, or buy some new clothes - I'm sick of having to scavenge for my duds; or just... have a life without being in almost constant peril"
Surprised, Jay regarded her for a moment "I..." he paused to give her a grin "Where would be the fun in that!?"
"Yeah, you're right. We'd be bored" Cassandra's face split with a smile and she held a hand out towards him "C'mon. Help me up and we'll go find shark boy"
Struggling upright, Jay grasped her slim, calloused hand in his and pulled her up, onto her feet to her murmured thanks.
"What do you think about this psychic entity that's found Jaxx?" he asked, keeping his voice low as they continued on their way.
"I was going to ask you about that before that Haruk interrupted us"
Cass shrugged and glanced at him out of the corner of her eye "Whatever the entity is, it seems benign enough at the moment. I don't think there's any need to do anything drastic"
"That's what I was thinking" Jay nodded "Although, running off and abandoning Jaxx like that might not have done us any favours"
"We'll burn that bridge when we come to it"
"Yeah, that's fair"
Cass snickered, the corners of her eyes crinkling with cheeky mirth "You know, I'm surprised our psychic hitch-hiker even managed to find Jaxx's brain"
"But accurate" her lip curled "Oh, what's it matter what I think. He's happy. I'm not sure many of the rest of us could say that"
Continuing on their way, they lapsed into something of a reflective silence after that.
"Here comes Jaxx" Jay said after another few minutes.
Cass paused and listened to the jungle around them "How do you do that!?" she demanded
"That... thing. I don't hear anything different. How do you know it's Jaxx?"
"I told you: You don't get to be Robin Hood -"
"Without picking up a few woodland tracking skills. I know. I just don't understand how it's possible"
Jaxx emerged from the jungle moments later with news of the Haruk scouts in the area, only to be informed, to his relief, that Cass and Jay had managed to evade one of them already.
By common consensus they agreed to push on towards the old crash site. They needed supplies and Frankie seemed reasonably certain that they could be found there; so aided by a combination of Jay's woodsman skills and Frankie's intimate knowledge of the area's waterways, they managed to evade any other scouts to arrive, earlier than expected, around mid-morning the next day.
It had rained heavily overnight and of the three of them, only Jaxx seemed to have had a decent nights sleep, no doubt lulled into insensibility by Frankie's psychic ministrations. Cass, on the other hand, had endured a terrible night.
Used to the comfort of her bed and skittish about the dark, alien jungle, full of strange noises and distressingly large insects, she had found it hard to settle. Sleeping in the same proximity as Jay for the first time in eight or nine months was also something of a novelty which didn't help matters either.
In the end she had managed only a little fitful sleep before the rainstorm hit and she and Jay had spent the remaining hours before dawn, huddled beneath the makeshift shelter they had built with a snoring Jaxx, watching the arrival of the grey morning light and listening to the steady drum of the downpour on the leaves of the jungle around them.
Now, some four or five hours later, with the heat of the day slowly building along with the oppressive humidity, Cass was feeling bad tempered and crotchety.
“Who the fuck are they?” she hissed “And what are they doing?”
“Dunno” Jay murmured, his eyes narrowing as he observed the humans moving around the crash site “My guess is that these are the ones holding Plisken. They’ve got weapons... Do you think they work out here?”
They were concealed in the undergrowth near the edge of the scar the Drive Room had made in the jungle when Plisken had crashed landed the last time they had been here. In the months since their departure, the forest had already made considerable progress in reclaiming the site and it was with some difficulty that the humans made their way in and out of the creeper infested interior of the ruined Drive Room.
“Oceans to Murgatroyd - It looks like a salvage operation” Jaxx / Frankie observed “We made it here in the nick of time kiddo's; but unless we hurry, there’ll be no supplies left for us, even”
Armed humans are busy exploring the crash site and taking whatever’s left from the drive room
How many are there, how did they get here, do they have backup, and how do we persuade them to let us have the stuff instead?
Chances are they can handle whatever the jungle can throw at them, so let’s not make this too easy, eh? ;-)