2237-03-03 - Jungle Hack

Two doctors and two marines head off into the jungle to search for the components of a treatment for Spiro Fever.

Date: 2237-03-03

Location: Canceron Jungle

Related Scenes: None

Plot: Operation: Jungle Fever

Scene Number: 727

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The word went out looking for marine volunteers to escort a doctor and a civilian botanist into the jungle. It's not supposed to be an overnighter, but the small crew is packed for it. Doctor Eli Cadmus has packed like a pro and is dressed in appropriate jungle fatigues.
The civilian botanist, Dr. Elsy Cooper is a little...less together. She's not packed light enough. The gear has been stowed in the jeep that will take them out to the trailhead, and her stuff alone has almost taken up all the available space.

Chancey Enos Bean has volunteered -- mostly to get off base and not have to work yet another patrol shift. Dressed in jungle fatigues, the brown-haired man looks ready to tromp around through the jungle foliage. His belt is loaded, his backpack looks comfortably stuffed, and he has a scent around him that suggests sunscreen and bug repellant. He joins the other two, nodding slightly in turn. "Private Bean," he offers as a greeting. "Here to see you there and back." Wherever there might be.

Eli is wearing a pair of aviator sunglasses. He pushes them further up on his nose. "Private. Thanks for coming. We're hitting a few different places. Don't suppose you know anything about botany? We're looking for a half dozen different local plants that, when combined, creates an effective treatment for Spiro fever."

"Five, actually. The sixth can be replaced by a very common reagent. Doctor Elsy Cooper of the Canceron Botantical Institute," says the woman as she extends her hand firmly out towards Bean. She's a small and quick woman in her late thirties with dark skin and a puff of hair with a few threads of gray. There's something warm and eccentric about her. "I'm rather surprised that we weren't aware of this local remedy before. But then again, the gents over at the Canceron Medical Institute have always looked their noses down on bush medicine, more's the pity."

"No, Doc... sorry... I could tell you all about the recent changes in Pyramid stats, and nearly everything about Caprican law, but I'm of the opinion that flowers are just for sniffin'." Bean offers a wry smile to both the doctor and botanist. He looks to Elsy and nods companionably. "Ma'am." Then he wrinkles his nose slightly. "Bush medicine," he repeats uncertainly. "You mean medicine from plants." He only sounds slow, people. Really.

Eli chuckles and shakes his head. "A matter of speaking, yeah. But most medicine is made from plants, at least originally. Bush medicine refers to local remedies passed down through folklore and using the natural environment. Elsy, you have way too much gear here. You realize we're hacking it, right?"
Elsy looks at the gear, then over at Bean, then says, "I thought there would be more marines."
Eli shakes his head and tosses the keys over to Bean. "Do us the honours, private?"

"I hope you don't mind me dundering along then," Bean offers to both, and when the keys are tossed his way, he catches them with a small oof. He nods slightly, stepping forward. He looks to Eli, shrugging slightly. "No prospect of Cylon-killing," he offers wryly. "Just bush-hunting." From his tone, Bean thinks he's cracked a mean joke, but all he does is smile to himself. "But, I'm surprised too... beats just another patrol." Throwing his bag into the back of the jeep, and settling his cap over his hair, he turns to the driver's side door. He looks over the dash a few moments, and then starts to settle himself into the seat.

The drive to the trail head is uneventful. It's a well-travelled route - in fact, it's part of a system of recreational hiking trails. Where they enter though, is barely a trail at all. To the left, there's a clean, wide path. To the right, and where they're going, there's barely enough room through the dense jungle to walk single file. "According to the map, there's a very large, ancient tree about a two hour hike down this path. It's a good candidate for medicinal mushrooms," says Eli.
Elsy only brought a quarter of the gear she packed, and even that, she's struggling to carry with ease. She's determined, however.

Gustavo was dealing with the jeep as they others talked, and then applying an anti-mosquito ointment that is conveniently dark green in color. It goes across his hands and zig-zags across his face, shimmering lightly where his sweat rolls over it -- the Sergeant has his sleeves rolled all the way down to his wrists despite the humidity and heat. "The Marines we have are here for protection, Doctor, not as packmules." There's a pause, and then Tavo admits, "Although we'll probably end up doing that too." Despite the lack of any prospects for Cylon-hunting, Tavo has his SAW slung across his body, a pistol at one hip, and a machete strapped to his other leg, in addition to a couple of days' worth of food and water on his back.

Bean has been at the wheel, showing a command of off-roaders, while grunting that it appears Canceron still hasn't gotten the newest model, as Capricans always get first dibs. When they come to the stop point, he glances over to the second marine. "I thought we were here for a relaxing jungle cruise," he says dryly to Tavo. Then he starts to climb out of the jeep. "Ancient tree," he repeats. "I know a good story about an ancient tree. You ever heard about the Aerilon woman who caught Apollo's fancy before his sister turned her into a tree out of jealousy?" Oh, and Bean knows a bit about theology too. "I think it was a bay tree."
"Fascinating," says Eli absently in response to Bean's little anecdote. He's got a machete too, and a pistol, but no rifle. His own gear is weighted down with sample kits and testing equipment. He's studying the map, then he pulls out a handheld GPS. "Doctor Cooper, keep an eye out for the basus leaf, will you?"
The eccentric doctor nods once and immediately starts scanning the nearby greenery.
Eli looks over at the two marines. "Your job is to make sure nothing sneaks up on us while we've got our noses on the ground looking for plants. Sound good?"

"Yes," Bean replies, expression a bit amused. "I'm sure it is." Then he pulls himself fully upright and grabs his gear, swinging on his pack once more. "Hope everyone brought a poncho... I hear it rains here a lot." He then looks back to the doctor, gaze passing toward the strange little botanist. "Yup, sounds good... you can sniff around for truffles, and we'll make sure no one gets your bacon." Yes, he just made a pig joke...

"And probably make sure you drink enough too, Doc." Tavo's voice is the same quiet, stolid tone he takes when he isn't bellowing in combat. He knows that Eli undoubtedly has the sense to stay hydrated, but when you address both non-combatants at once, it makes it less offensive to the one you're actually talking to. Glancing over to Bean, he smiles, chuckling a little, "Well, if there are any rivers around, Gramps, we can inflate an inner tube for you and you can drift down them looking for a bay tree that used to be a person."

Eli gives Tavo a look. Seriously? He's usually the one lecturing people to take care of themselves. Then again, doctors are the worst at following their own advice. "You do much jungle hacking back home, Sergeant?" the doc asks of Tavo. He double-checks their coordinates on the GPS, then starts to move into the jungle. "I was a city dweller myself, but we got out into the wilderness a bit. Usually to do drops or haul people back." And by 'drops,' he probably doesn't mean 'care packages.'
The other doctor, meanwhile, seems entranced by the plants.

Bean snorts a bit at the joke made at his expense, and then he falls in with the others. He takes up the rear, making sure that they all keep moving at a good pace and no one falls back. His eyes drift up toward Eli and Tavo at the questions, realizing only belatedly that the two are, of course, Scorpia. He listens for now, his cop ears active.
"Wonderful, you're going to make me hungry, Gramps." Tavo gestures for Bean to take the lead with Eli, dropping back easily to help shepherd the academic doctor along. "More than I would have liked, Doc. Lived on the edge of it. And I did a tour with the ICJPK in the deep bush." Yes, he joined the ICJPK and got sent back home. "They couldn't send me to sunny Picon. No, I got sent back home."

"Funny how they like to do that, right? The ICJPK didn't fully realize that you have to be careful which Scorpians you send where." Because if you send the wrong clansman into the wrong clan, you get stabbed in the arm and another Scorpian has to save your life. Eli looks to the twitchy botanist, who is busy staring at the ground at as they pass. She somehow manages to move at a good pace in spite of that. "Keep your eyes peeled for a big..." he makes a circle with his hands about the size of a sunflower, "...red flower that looks kind of angry. One of the plants we're looking for likes to grow underneath it."

"Big red flower," Bean repeats, tone thoughtful, "looks angry." He hesitates. "How can a flower look angry?" He also flashes a glance to the botanist who is, quite literally, in her own world. He makes sure she doesn't run into anything like a big angry red flower. "What are the symptoms of this disease we're trying to cure?"

Tavo keeps his right hand free for now, walking at the back of the group, but he digs out a canteen with his left, pops the top, and takes a sip, "Almost enough to make you believe that the ICJPK bureaucracy isn't just throwing darts at a map of the Colonies." He lets that sit for a beat-pause, and then adds, "Almost." Bean's question draws a dry chuckle into the wet air, "We can always go back to the infirmary when we RTB," Return to Base "and you can see first-hand." But he starts looking around for flashes of red in addition to movement as they continue through the jungle, "Let me know when you want me to take over cutting trail, Doc."

Bean snorts a bit at the joke made at his expense, and then he falls in with the others. He takes up the rear, making sure that they all keep moving at a good pace and no one falls back. His eyes drift up toward Eli and Tavo at the questions, realizing only belatedly that the two are, of course, Scorpia. He listens for now, his cop ears active.
"Wonderful, you're going to make me hungry, Gramps." Tavo gestures for Bean to take the lead with Eli, dropping back easily to help shepherd the academic doctor along. "More than I would have liked, Doc. Lived on the edge of it. And I did a tour with the ICJPK in the deep bush." Yes, he joined the ICJPK and got sent back home. "They couldn't send me to sunny Picon. No, I got sent back home."

"Funny how they like to do that, right? The ICJPK didn't fully realize that you have to be careful which Scorpians you send where." Because if you send the wrong clansman into the wrong clan, you get stabbed in the arm and another Scorpian has to save your life. Eli looks to the twitchy botanist, who is busy staring at the ground at as they pass. She somehow manages to move at a good pace in spite of that. "Keep your eyes peeled for a big..." he makes a circle with his hands about the size of a sunflower, "...red flower that looks kind of angry. One of the plants we're looking for likes to grow underneath it."

"Big red flower," Bean repeats, tone thoughtful, "looks angry." He hesitates. "How can a flower look angry?" He also flashes a glance to the botanist who is, quite literally, in her own world. He makes sure she doesn't run into anything like a big angry red flower. "What are the symptoms of this disease we're trying to cure?"

Tavo keeps his right hand free for now, walking at the back of the group, but he digs out a canteen with his left, pops the top, and takes a sip, "Almost enough to make you believe that the ICJPK bureaucracy isn't just throwing darts at a map of the Colonies." He lets that sit for a beat-pause, and then adds, "Almost." Bean's question draws a dry chuckle into the wet air, "We can always go back to the infirmary when we RTB," Return to Base "and you can see first-hand." But he starts looking around for flashes of red in addition to movement as they continue through the jungle, "Let me know when you want me to take over cutting trail, Doc."

"You'll know it when you see it," says Eli of the angry red flower. "We're not trying to find a cure, just a treatment. The local remedy worked better to lessen the symptoms than conventional pharmaceuticals. The cure will likely come from some well-funded research hospital, if at all."
The rest of the hike passes more or less in silence. They have a few false alarm regarding components that their resident biologist debunks. Eventually, they arrive in a clearing with the stump of a massive old tree. The trunk of said tree is barely visible beneath the knot of vegetation. There is however, a lot of fungus growing around the remnants of the stump. "Jackpot," says Eli.

"That's not great news, Doc," Bean says to the comment about the realities of finding a cure. He follows after the others dutifully, keeping his eyes peeled. When Eli announces the find, the Marine pulls up short. He drops his rifle, letting it fall across his back casually. He grimaces. "What you need, Doc? I mean... it's not a danger on its own, is it?" Because he's heard stories of flowers in the Canceron jungles that can kill you after you sniff them. Or at least, that's what the chatter was around the Caprican watercooler.

"Like pornography." You'll know it when you see it. Tavo continues to sweat in the wet heat, but he seems to simply accept the discomfort, not bothering to dab at his brow or neck. He grunts and nods at Eli's words, "If at all. Ya know, Doc, I think it might even be hotter here than back home. That would be just my luck." Bean's question draws the big man's dark eyes over to the Caprican, and he grunts softly, looking to the botanist. Marine One and Marine Two both appear interested in the answer to that question.

"A danger? No. The locals use the mushrooms in a stew. A special wedding stew, if I'm not mistaken. Doctor Cooper?" Eli wades through the tangle of vegetation to the cluster of mushrooms. Between the two of them, it only takes about twenty minutes or so to confirm the mushroom is what they're after.
The jungle is alive. Even though conversation has ebbed, plants and animals continue to fill the air with racket.

During one of Bean's more casual glances, he blinks when something angry and red and floral catches his eyes. He arches up his brows high, staring at the flower that is indeed quite angry looking for a quaint blossom. He starts to whistle. "Doc! I got an offended flower over here!" He looks back toward Tavo, gesturing to the flower with the muzzle of his rifle.

"Right, so none of us eat it unless we want to end up married." Tavo chuckles under his breath at his own joke, turning outward to study the jungle as the brainiacs get to work checking over the fungus. He does not see any angry red flowers, but at Bean's call, he drops a hand to the pistol-grip of his SAW, only to let it fall away as the other Marine continues, "There has to be some euphemism here."

"Offended...? Oh," Eli leaves Doctor Cooper to scrape up the last of the mushroom samples before he wades through the thick foliage to examine the flower. Imagine a sunflower dipped in red dye, and if each leaf ended in an angry yellow point. "Good eye." He slaps Bean on the shoulder, then dips to check. "Yeah, that's what we're looking for, all right. Two out of five components down."
As they walk to the next location, Doctor Cooper discovers the their third component amongst an unlikely cluster of ferns. It's a dime-sized berry that looks like it belongs to a circus clown.
They're now moving sort of parallel to the trail they came in on. The soldierly types in their crew might notice a smell in the air that is decidedly un-jungle. It smells like fuel.

Bean snorts at Tavo, shaking his head. "I'm sure you'll work it out, Tavo." Then he steps back, giving the botanist and doctor room to harvest because he's sure not touching anything that might kill him. He offers Eli a quick smile, bobbing his head. "Alright, Doc." Then he steps along into tow again. "So, what do you do with it all... when you've got it harvested?"

By then, Tavo has taken his place at the front of the little expedition, his SAW slung across his back and applying his machete as needed to keep their progress going. "I think it might be wasted on the group. It would be a shame to waste a perfectly good euphemism." He cuts through a vine crossing the trail, then stops, frowning thoughtfully, then holding up his left fist to get the rest to stop. "That... doesn't smell like the jungle. Anyone else catchin' a whiff?"

"Well, then we try to combine it in the right quantities and create a balm that will hopefully ease the symptoms," says Eli. "I managed to track down instructions thanks to Doctor Cooper. So once we've got the bits, it shouldn't be difficult to combine them."
"Provided my sources were accurate," says Elsy. "It is a fairly old remedy that has been transcribed dozens of ways. But in any case, none of these components are harmful." She sniffs. "That does not smell like greenery."
In fact, as they move further in, there's dark scorch marks along the jungle floor, and the smell gets stronger. Tavo will find a river of jet fuel in the path ahead of them, along with a scrap of metal.

"Only of your poor choice in soap," Bean quips back without missing a beat to Tavo. He turns his head now, listening dutifully to Elsy and Eli, the former's contributions drawing a thoughtful nod from him. "The origin of medicine," he offers in a sober tone. Then the scorch marks catch his eye. Now he smells it, mingled with the smell of burned foilage. He grimaces, and immediately pulls his rifle into a readied position against his shoulder. "Frak," he hisses under his breath. "Doc... Ma'am... stay back a bit."

Tavo nods at Elsy's comment, "That's what I thought." Bean's quip causes him to snort in amusement, "Soap?" He steps forward a few more paces, stopping and crouching down before the rivulet of fuel. Carefully dabbin one fingertip in it, he brings it up to sniff more closely. Grimacing, the Sergeant wipes off his fingertip in the underbrush, "Tylium fuel." His words are hushed now, and he sheathes the machete to take up the grip of his SAW once more, "Might be a crash nearby." There's a pause, and then he grouses, "Probably a Cylon." Because of course it would be, it would just be his luck.

Eli may be a medical doctor, but he's also a soldier who has seen active combat. At the suggestion of a threat, the doctor unholsters his pistol. Doctor Cooper on the other hand, looks considerably more apprehensive. She makes herself as small as she can and crouches down.
"I suppose you'd better investigate," says Eli.
The scorch marks lead off towards a clearing and grow deeper and wider as they travel in. The fuel pools get larger as well, as does the spray of debris. Around the edge of a large crush of vegetation are the remains of a crashed Cylon raider. The wreckage is no longer smouldering, so it's likely it's been here awhile.

"We need to talk about hygiene," Bean says flatly to Tavo. Then he has his focus rapt to the fuel and scraps. His jaw works a bit at the obvious aside from Eli, aand he nods a bit. "Alright, Tavo... it looks dangerous... you go first." And he gestures with the muzzle of his rifle again. He will easily fall into stride with the fellow marine, keeping his stance low as he moves into the crush of vegetation. When his eyes lock on the raider, he is no longer fixated on the vessel, but instead on all the trees around them. "Frak..."

"Hang tight, Doc." There's a pause, and then Tavo changes that to, "Docs. I'll be right back, and Bean'll be close by." Nodding to Bean, the Scorpian moves forward, stepping around foliage now rather than charging through it. Quietly, he draws back the charging handle on his SAW, jacking a round into the chamber, then nods to the other Marine, "Cover me, Gramps." Crouching a little lower, the big man points towards Bean, then gestures from a two-fingered point at his own eyes to a two-fingered point across the left-hand side of the clearing. Tapping his own chest, he gestures across to the right side, then starts forward, sidling up to the edge of the clearing and keeping most of his attention on the right side of the clearing.

Doctor Cooper is nearly vibrating with nerves. Eli looks to her and then says, "Hey, Elsy. Have a look around here. This is the right environment for the salilius, isn't it?"
Elsy looks around, then nods nervously. She kneels to start pawing through the underbrush. Meanwhile, Eli keeps an eye out.
The raider hit hard. It doesn't have wings to speak of, but the cockpit seems mostly intact from a distance. On closer inspection however, there's scorch marks along the side from where it hit enemy fire. The strafing run angles up across the cockpit. It seems that was the cause of the crash. The central control unit has chunks missing. If this thing is still alive, it doesn't seem like it's going to move anytime soon.

"As you say," Bean offers to Tavo, still maintain an eye on the treeline. He glances once toward the raider, brow slightly lifted. "You hear of a recent run in with cylons over this way?" He isn't sure of the answer honestly, as he's oft to keep his nose out of the SFC business and worry about ground action. The movement of brush from Elsy is ignored, but his ears are straining to hear any other movementin the brush.

Tavo studies the Raider from the edge of the clearing for a long moment, tracking the line of shell-holes with his eyes a moment, then shaking his head, "I don't know how fast things grow here. Can't compare how long it's been since the crash." His voice is a bare murmur, and then he nods to himself, "I'm going to check the cockpit, see if the toaster is still strapped in." Glancing once to Bean, Tavo waits for confirmation, then starts forward, aiming to cross the crash-cleared space at a quick roadie-run so that he can peek into the shattered cockpit.

There's no heat coming off the wreckage, which is the strongest bit of evidence that it's been there awhile. Not long enough for the jungle to reclaim it, but long enough for it to stop smouldering. The thing is in very bad shape. The cockpit is half-destroyed. It's black with carbon and reeks of fuel. There might be the remains of something in it, but it's hard to tell.
"Hey, guys? I know you're curious about this thing, but poking a downed raider isn't really the mission. Can we finish collecting our samples and mark this spot on the GPS?" Eli knows he can order the marines to fall back, but he's a doctor - he's not going to presume he knows better in this situation.

"Yeah, yeah, alright," Bean calls back up to Eli. He looks at Tavo. "Report it, but Doc's right... let's keep moving." His expression is a bit hard to read, but the glance along the treeline spells it out: he's still cautious. He starts to step back toward Eli and Elsy, but he does not release his rifle this time.
Tavo studies the wreckage for a moment, frowning into the cockpit, then slowly shaking his head and stepping back, "No joy." Crossing the clearing once more to rejoin the rest of the party, Tavo adds, "It looks pretty old. I think it's safe for everything but the plants. But we should keep an extra-close eye out while we're in the area. Could always be Cylon SAR-by-foot. If they even do that." Huffing out a breath, he nods to Eli, "We're back on task, Doc."

"Good, because I have patients back in the clinic who badly need this treatment," says Eli. He clearly doesn't share the curiosity about the raider. Either that, or his priorities are just in a different place.
"Oooh!" squeaks Elsy. She holds up a broad leaf plant. "Brilliant! A very healthy specimen, too." She goes about cutting a good quantity of the plant.
As they make their way back to the trail head via a slightly different route, the little party is able to gather everything they need for the remedy. There's no further sign of Cylons. No doubt military intelligence will be interested in the coordinates of the downed raider.


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