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View character profile for: Cassandra Jones
View character profile for: Jay Chrysler
View character profile for: Dr Jade Black
View character profile for: Jamie Eastlick
View character profile for: Jason Tanaka
Jason nodded and wandered from person to person to make sure no one else needed serious medical attention. After that was taken care of the more seriously injured were to be sent back to the lifts with a few of the more able bodied members to back them up.
When they left, it was just Cass, Jay, Jade, Jamie, Mark, and Jason along with a handful of others left to continue on.
Jamie looked to the everyone, "So what's the plan now?"
“I say we head starboard and make for the cliffs” Rackham said, brushing fake pink pine needles out of his hair “The mountain daisies will net us the top bounty”
“That was our plan” Jay nodded “After that we can loop back towards the exit via the apiaries”
“Excellent” Rackham turned and pointed at Jamie “I saw the way you flanked those saplings; you can take point with Tanaka; Gibbs, Kumar” he indicated the two other survivors from his team “Left and right flanks. Doctor Black, Reverend” he flashed Cass a crooked smile “You’re both with me, and you...” he turned back to regard Jay “You can bring up the rear”
Curling his lip with disdain, Jay stubbornly folded his arms “Who put you in charge?” he demanded.
Rackham looked surprised that he even needed to ask “Well,” he shrugged “your man there...”
“Jamie – He’s quite obviously adept at jungle warfare. Tanaka’s already dead and having flown with him on many occasions, I trust him implicitly. Gibbs and Kumar are both marines; while you...” he trailed off, leaving Jay’s lowly position as a security grunt implied but unsaid “Have you got any better ideas?”
“Well, not as such” Jay huffed “But...”
“Excellent” Rackham turned on his heel, effectively concluding the debate “Let’s move out”
Glancing back at Jay as the others began moving into position, Cass shook her head “Leave it” she said “There are bigger things to worry about. We need to go”
“But...” Jay gave up when he saw that nobody was actually paying him any attention and exasperatedly threw his hands up in the air, before stomping after after the others, into the trees.
The first questing root tendrils slithered out from beneath the bushes a short while later. At first they felt blindly around in the dirt, searching here and there for the source of the scent of sap, carried downwind on the breeze. It didn’t take long for them to find the remains of the pink saplings; the root tendrils retreating in horror as soon as they touched the broken twigs and branches and retreating a short distance to anchor themselves into the ground.
With the sound of the wind, rushing through the forest, the Pink Tree crashed out of the undergrowth a few moments later. It looked exceedingly angry. Hauling itself forward on powerful roots, it pulled itself into the middle of the clearing, where it stood for a while, silently surveying the ruined remains of it’s progeny; the broken branches; the oozing sap and, most distressingly of all, the feeble twitching of the one or two surviving saplings as they died a slow and agonising death.
<Rustle> the Pink Tree quivered angrily <Rustle, Rustle, RUSTLE>
At once, it’s roots tore from the ground and lashed forward, wrapping themselves, whip-like, around the trunks of two trees near the edge of the clearing. Coiling it's roots tightly, the Pink Tree hauled itself back into the murky gloom of the forest.
The human’s corpses would make fine fertilizer for the next generation of saplings, but first, it resolved, they were going to suffer for what they had just done.
Swinging his machete, Jamie slashed a creeper out of the way and ducking his head, pushed his way out of the thicket. His arms were covered in scratches and he was sheathed in sweat from his exertions, but he hadn’t had this much fun in ages. Raising his blade to chop at another creeper, something half-glimpsed through the forest ahead made him pause.
“You see that?” he said in a low voice to Jason and pointed away through the trees.
“Between the trees”
Jason gave him a look “There are dozens of trees”
“Yes, the... The building” Jamie shook his head in exasperation and muttered something under his breath.
Jason frowned “What do you think it is?”
Unbeknownst to us, the Pink Tree is on our trail, but in the meantime, we’ve just stumbled across a building – what is it? Who or what lives there?
Is it the dangerous plants exhibit, a garden tool shed or just the home of a crazy hermit? – or is it something completely different?
Over to you...