Week 38: Didn't Make this Stuff Up [Unedited]
"Gotten into?" Boyd responded back over Mexico's Ear-To-Mouth Com. "What are you talking about?"
"What am I talking about?" He shouted of the mission being anything but routine, "It's like a vegetarian's revenge out here!"
Boyd added peculiarly, "Things couldn't have progressed that far."
Mexico countered, "I'm not even going to pretend that you had a heads-up on all this and simply...neglected to make us aware of the situation. That would put an even larger damper on an already strained relationship."
Questioning either out of astonishment or for clarification, Boyd asked, "Are you sure about what you've seen?"
"Am...I...sure?" Mexico repeated while taking a step back figuratively in noticing that his tense grip on the backs of Corinna's and Jocelin's chairs was about to tear off the headrests on both. No greater certainty existed than the visual out that view-screen of the shuttle spiraling through a forest which lashed about freely - violently without the sway of wind in obvious hopes of trying to strike them down. This was, of course, in addition to the chaos below which actually saw additional sets of roots ripping up the pavement with impunity during the remaking of a more suitable foundation. The ground, some objects that stood above it, and many people who were gravitationally confined upon said surface were a lot less mobile to be able to deal with a quake that might not have originated but definitely intensified at the soil level.
Bodies were thrown about to their doom or the condition of numerous, painful, and in many respects immobilizing broken bones as easily as XRTP's were tossed aside to make way for a settled bed of greenery growth. Freestanding structures like buildings, lamp posts, or monuments such as abstract Galaxy Bloc artwork and even the occasional billboard were fractured but otherwise remained in place. Perhaps, this was a positive gauge of the formulating forest's current (yet still impressive and hard to call limited) strength. Like any other plant that could not burrow through items which stood in the way, its branches and leafy appendages began to scale and engulf these objects.
"Can't you just pull back?" Boyd's tone seemed casually unconcerned, highly insincere, and non empathetic in light of the facts, but it really was difficult to read facial expressions over an Ear-To-Mouth Com. Besides, there was no way that Corinna or Jocelin were going to allow the distraction of the Enforcer's image to show up on their view-screen during this ever tensing moment of keeping an ace pilot's nerve and an air gunner's resolve.
As turbulent as the flight path not only seemed but felt, Jocelin kept the shuttle on course of a rather controlled downward sloping angle. The apexes of trees on Dio Qze seemed to reach frightening elevations which could be measured in miles rather than feet. Their associative girths were also staggering although the resultant stoutness moved much more slowly than the amassing vegetation below, so she was able to pilot the ship's way through the skyscraping obstacle course with a cautiously relative ease - working the yoke to thread a needle of hardened and unforgiving congestion. It was like driving down a highway during construction: On one side were concrete barriers and on the opposite side were other drivers attempting to do the same. Playing off that analogy was the wholehearted importance of depth perception and not a lot else in the way of proximity sensors when attempting and hopefully succeeding to weave the safest way between this particular encumbrance.
Jocelin kept the shuttle's lasers peeled on dealing with the miscellaneous hazards - namely the sprouting foliage which shot outward from the massive trunks in an attempt to estimate their position and hopefully ensnare the ship. The other vessels which were trying to perform a similar task of evasion happened to be having the same time of trying to stay alive (as opposed to 'a time'). Gunnery anticipation almost played off the destruction or snagged loss of those other ships flying along the sides of this one, so she chose her shots based off what the hostile arboretum was giving her. If there were dangers posted to one area, flight avoidance needed to suffice while laser pulses were flung in the reverse direction for the purposes of preventing a fatal box-in.
To the right and with an abundance of the sleeker PQZG's leading a full-blown charge, Corinna's staggered descent became a gem of patience through perseverance. This could be equated to football after a kickoff. It was ill-advised for the kick returner to outrun the blockers but often more beneficial to hang back and wait for the blocking wedge to be set up. In the franticness of the push for everybody to reach some semblance of safety, only the savvy were thinking like that and thinking about using the other ships to an eventual advantage when (technically) everybody happened to be in the same sinking boat. She certainly did not know any of these people though, and the majority of them who had become the first to possibly flee were obviously less concerned with those that had yet to receive their evacuation clearances - still stuck on the ground, so her remorse was just about as lacking as either mention of the intendants' voices throughout this entire eBook.
Corinna and Jocelin were both cold and never said anything. They merely performed and let their expert actions do any of the required talking for them. In this instance, the pilot continued to pull off a barrel roll as the shuttle (which should not have been able to) outran the forest on the backs of the sacrificial Galaxy Bloc ships while the gunner managed to shoot through what turned out to be a three hundred and sixty degree pathway range which headed off danger before the pass and was left sending pulses in the backward direction upon exit to try and keep the uncannily aggressive growth at bay.
There were other agricultural planets throughout the universe where dense rain forests filled up a significant portion of the world's surface, but Dio Qze was not supposed to be one of those. The strange quickness by how lush the vegetation had become would have been close to being considered an impossibility if Mexico had not witnessed this firsthand and lived, for the moment (afterward) to tell Boyd about it - sitting and strapping himself back down through a dizzying display of the shuttle's twirling:
He was so angry right now that laughter almost started to emit from his lips, but the calmness of his tone prevailed as a simple succession of businesslike utterances, "Did I also neglect to mention that something is...firing at us from just outside the planet's private outer space orbit?"
Judging from the aerial dash to the shuttle's left which sent Mexico's tethered body flailing (controllably) in the direction of the aisle, Corinna was well aware of it as well - breaking with the remaining pack of stragglers who had managed to emerge out into the open on the debatably safer side of the deadly forest but were now subtle pickings for the overhead bombardment which sought to see them all grounded. These were clearly the offensive lasers of much larger ships, and she meant to leave the rest of the pack to their own devices in drawing some if not the majority of that laser fire away from this shuttle during the final push for Boyd's penthouse.
After an uneasy pause in what must have been Mexico's estimation, Boyd stated how, "I can't believe how things have escalated this far out of control." He let out an audible sigh of either fatigue or frustration before saying, "Give me some time to work," and following that up with a superfluous: "Stay alive." The feed then went communicatively silent.
"Hello? ¿Estás allí?" Mexico could not believe his ears. Given no direction other than the salient talking points from a pointless breath which should have been saved, it would have been silly for him to have done (perceptively) the same - instead explaining, "The penthouse may afford us some additional cover. What I'd recommend doing is trying to wait a little bit of this out until we get a chance to regroup - maybe even take time to catch our bearings."
Not even waiting for the shuttle to settle itself upon the rooftop landing pad, Mexico had already unstrapped himself and made his way to the back, ramp door - opening it up while the ship was in the process of touching down. No time existed for wasting, so he made the most of what little they had by stepping up the individual efficiency. Although Corinna and Jocelin wound up trailing him out the back of the shuttle after powering down the ship's various flight and weapon systems, his LUNC actually led the way. Having been holstered beneath his left armpit within a shoulder rig that sat hidden under the designer suit coat, introducing its part into this madness was definitely advisable.
Whenever perched atop a high-up vantage point, it was always customary to peer over the edge and put that positioning in perspective. They just had to know. The building was not overly tall, but stood at over fifty stories - allowing them a sufficient view of the periphery at a monolithic level. Sometimes, mega highrises were so altitudinous that the very visual of those things that were being overlooked became skewed and borderline indecipherable. This penthouse was smack-dab in the middle of the city and afforded them a crisp display of not only the foreseeable horizon but the events down at the street level as well.
It was these events which allowed them to witness a vine latching onto and tripping up a fleeing individual by the ankle prior to dragging the person toward the emergence of a connected and budding plume for devouring. The stems from this seemingly planet-sized plant had not yet reached the height of the building, and they silently wondered why that was, not pushing their luck by virtue of overanalyzing the situation which might have held the unintended consequence of willing such an unthinkable occurrence to come to pass.
Mexico said what they were all contemplating, "It's almost as if this plant is being somehow...selective (in its expansion)." The pattern did not measure up to the startling forestry which took up, at minimum, a quarter of Dio Qze's surface area and had caused them to have to fly by the seat of their pants in escaping from it. Perhaps, this thing was low on energy - having expelled enormous amounts in order to spread to those lengths.
Or maybe, this lull in the voracity was being coordinated....
Mexico's best guess was that the stealth ships which continued to fire down upon the Galaxy Bloc Military's emplacements were also at the root (pun partially intended) of the plant's newfound passivity - well, relative passivity. Anybody who came in contact still got eaten. Cars were dangling in the air via its twiny grasp, taken out of the equation. Closing out the circle of thought, he realized what this situation represented. That thing behaved like an enforcer, of sorts, to keep the civilians in line as the outer space bombardment kept the soldiers preoccupied and allowed whoever happened to be the culprit an opportunity to round up those who could least defend themselves. This was all speculation, but the 'why' did not currently matter. Only the 'what' happened to be pertinent to his survival at present.
Boyd had some serious explaining to do, but that was not his voice which emanated from an invisible position above that kicked up some brisk and very telling gusts across the roof. Straining against its forceful push - Mexico, Corinna, and Jocelin turned around while also turning their attention upward.
"Put your weapon down and make your way toward the staircase with no rushed movements," commanded a voice from what was apparently a smaller stealth ship than what had been hovering around Dio Qze's orbit. Size aside, the fact still remained that they could not see it, and this factor increased the looming danger of whatever that vessel was - them having played right into the hands of an ongoing roundup with their timely evasion and coasting arrival at the penthouse. This just went to again prove that sights unseen provided foreboding circumstances nonetheless.
"Da-n you, Señor Boyd," Mexico took the time to mutter beneath his voice while shaking his head in spite.
"You're kidding me, right?" Captain Love Borcuk questioned with the crossed arms of skepticism and a facial expression of disbelief from a seated position behind the desk in her Cockpit Section side office.
"I'd never want to waste your time in any event, Ma'am," Boyd admitted with Lalia standing beside him, the blood still on his trench coat, and not so much as a chance at any snicker turning his steely gaze away from seriousness, "but unfortunately, this is one of those occasions where I wish that I was pulling your leg."
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