In which our secondary heroes find their adventure.
Clare hung out of the side of the helicopter, it wasn’t really necessary, but she knew she looked great with her hair flying in the downdraft. Because of this, while Frankie had technically seen the mess first, she was the first one to get a clear look.
It was a beautiful day. The sun was climbing into a deep blue sky, and it was just starting to get warm. From her vantage point she could see for miles, and what she could see right now was a huge collection of flattened jungle and twisted metal. “Well, well, well” she said, under her breath, “Tony Tony, what have you been up to?”
The chopper landed on a somewhat flat sheet of metal. Clare jumped off, and tried to guess what the thing they were standing on was. She had nothing. It looked like; well it looked like someone had collected together a lot of metal, welded it together, and dumped it in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. She took another look around; it was a bit ambitious for a piece of modern art.
She felt the reassuring bulk of Frankie behind her. “What are your orders?” he asked.
Clare wasn’t sure how exactly she had become the leader of this expedition; true she had been the one who gathered everyone together, but that had felt like play acting. She wasn’t even sure that she actually outranked Frankie at the paper. Still the way to be a leader is to lead people. “Circle out” she said, “Bring me clues about what this thing was.”
Then again, she thought, perhaps I’m being too hasty about calling myself the leader; Andrew does everything that anyone tells him, and I’ll just bet that Ants wouldn’t do a single thing if I phrased it as an order.
She tried to imagine what happened here. This had been the co-ordinates of Tony Tony’s phone when she had last talked to Greg; so Dryads had been here, had they done this? It looked like a lot of destruction for a group of immobile trees to do.
“Sah” called Frankie from the top of what looked to Clare a lot like a gun turret. Clare jogged up to him, wondering whether ‘Sah’ was considered an acceptable way to address a woman.
She reached Frankie’s side. Frankie said nothing, he just pointed, and Clare followed his finger. “Wow oh wow” she exclaimed, “How on earth did we manage to miss that?”
For as far as the eye could see it looked like the trees behind the mess were all somehow shorter. It was like looking down the length of a canyon. She looked at the other side of the mess, it was hard to see from where she was standing, but it didn’t look like the canyon continued. So they had a canyon of shorter trees, ending at the mess.
She took at closer look at the canyon; there were lots of short brown things dotted around. “Logging operation” she realized aloud.
Then all the words started coming at once. Logging operation, in the Amazon, Illegal, Dryads, Sentient trees, rage, destruction. Then other words started to appear, outrage at trees slaughtered, illegal logging: abuse of law, series of articles, Pulitzer Prize, “Andrew!” she yelled, as she marched back to the helicopter.
Andrew wasn’t in the helicopter; Clare hadn’t even seen him get out. “Andrew!” she yelled, “Andrew! Where the hell are you?” She heard a strange little noise, like someone clearing their throat while trying not to be noticed. She looked down, Andrew was there.
“Andrew” she said, “Get Ants on the phone, we have a report to make.”
Andrew was fidgeting with something in his hands, and he was clearly trying to say something; he kept stopping and starting, and tripping over his words. Clare got sick of waiting, “Well hop to it!” she barked.
Andrew jumped back and held up something that looked like a briefcase. Clare noticed that he was holding it like a shield and looking away from her with his eyes closed; she wondered if she was being too hard on him.
She lifted the briefcase thing out of his grasp, and he immediately darted into the helicopter. Clare took a closer look at the thing she was holding; it was much heavier than she had been expecting, and it had ‘security footage’ written on the side in giant white letters. Clare looked up with a slightly dazed expression on his face, I was definitely too hard on him, she thought.