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Between a Rock and a Hard 'Dillo

The next day dawns peacefully, despite the unusual interruptions from the night before. With the passing of time, no further unusual dreams or apparent anomalies rear themselves, and a clear and pleasant spring morning has begun. Kerry has breakfast cooking when the others start to wake up. "Anyone want a roasted cricket?"

Douglas almost, but not quite, gags. "Uhm... I'll pass, thanks." He looks around for breakfast for a moment, then blinks, realizing he's looking for it on the hoof -- cuisine that his cougar instincts want. He grimaces slightly and decides he will be perfectly happy with the rations they brought.

Kerry chuckles. "Nah, those are for me, and maybe the Captain wants one. Toast and beef for the rest of you."

Vash says, "I'll pass for right now, thanks. I like my breakfast to be properly dead."

Sakura says, "Thank you very much for the kind offer, Kerry-san, but I think I'll pass this time."

Kerry looks quite happy to eat them all himself. "They are cooked." He finishes the beef, perhaps not the tenderest of morsels, but decent for trail food. "So. More of the same today? How long do we have till the next full moon?"

Vash says, "Not sure. Didn't think to ask about the lunar calendar."

Douglas smiles dryly and sits up, stretching and sighing quietly. He casts a surreptitious look at his claws, which he extends slightly, before looking over at breakfast. "Well... I'd be remiss if I didn't admit I was famished. Doctor, may I serve you?"

Sakura says, "Thank you, Douglas-san. That's very kind..."

Vash munches absently on his breakfast, watching his food intently. Not that he expects it to escape, but he finds it easier to concentrate this way. He definitely appears to be elsewhere. Kerry skrees, "It looked only a couple days off last night. Don't want to dawdle and have to wait around four weeks before we can do it."

Sakura says, "The next full moon should be in three more days. I asked before we left..." Douglas smiles quietly and nods, setting up two plates of the meat and toast, ensuring they're properly cooked (despite the slight atavistic curiosity to see how it would taste uncooked -- Time enough for that later. No need to disturb the others... Sakura smiles, "Thank you, Douglas-san..." She eats at a polite pace, slowly.

Vash finishes the trail rations and leans back heavily against the tree he's co-opted. Not as bad as the food in the Corps was, at least... He stands up slowly, stretching. "I think we ought to keep moving. If the full moon's that close, we haven't got a lot of time to spare."

Sakura says, "Better to have to wait where we're supposed to be than to be late getting there."

Vash says, "Agreed."

Kerry nods. "Got that right."

Douglas munches on the beef -- Erm... a bit tough. I imagine a diesel engine fan belt might be chewier, -and stands, finishing the morsel of breakfast. "Very true..."

Having finished their rations, the crew begins walking down the trail again. There is no clearing where several of them had dreamed there was one. Indeed, everything seems calm and peaceful. An hour or so after they begin walking, the sound of rushing water can be heard. Vash sighs with mild irritation. More water. Just when I got our only firearm working again... Douglas grimaces slightly at the sound of water. Water. I hate water. However, it may mean an end to their quest, so he keeps pace with the others. Maybe this is the pond or lake we're supposed to find. Let's hope it is... Sakura says, "Do you suppose that's our lake?"

Vash says, "Soon find out."

Kerry skrees, "This early? Probably not. Besides, lakes don't flow that fast."

Sakura still looks hopeful. "Waterfall?"

Less than a half-hour later the walking spacefarers crest the top of a little rise. They can see down the path to where the source of the watery noise is. Not a lake, but a reasonably wide and fast moving river, which has managed to cut a gorge into the hillside as it passes. The walls of the canyon are fairly sheer, and look crumbly and hard to climb. Past the river the trail continues. Douglas says, "Well... I guess we should have expected something like this..."

Vash says, "Let's check the depth. Maybe we can ford it."

Kerry skrees, "Joy. I don't suppose one of you brought a boat?"

Douglas kneels beside the edge, peering down. "That's... quite a drop. Maybe forty feet or so." He looks around, the engineer in him looking for a solution. A fallen tree, the remains of a bridge... maybe some rope strung across the canyon further upstream or downstream...?

Sakura winks, "Right here in my pocket, Kerry-san."

Vash walks up to the precipice and looks downstream. "Doesn't look like going around is an option." He also kneels down, and cranes his neck over the edge. "Looks like there might be a foothold down here."

Kerry skrees, "Hmm. That ledge on the far side? I could probably reach it, if it would do us any good."

Vash says, "Doug, you're the engineer... what do you think?"

Douglas squints slightly, looking down to where Vash is looking. "Uhm... maybe... I don't know, though. I'm an engineer, not a geologist. But it might hold us... say! Captain, don't you have that feather...?"

Vash says, "Kerry's got it. I don't fly. Armadillo, remember? I dig."

Douglas says, "Sorry... Pilot, I mean. There are some boulders on that ledge, and it's fairly large. I imagine it would be easily stable."

Kerry skrees, "I do. That's why I think I can reach it... I'd land in the river without that extra boost."

Vash says, "As entertaining as that might be, the river's moving a little fast for us to fish you out in that event."

Kerry skrees, "Indeed. How much rope did we bring?"

Douglas nods slowly. "Unfortunately... that doesn't tell us how to get from the ledge back up to the top of the wall on that side..."

Sakura slips off her pack and opens it up to check... she pulls out a fairly large spool of polymer based line and holds it up for Douglas, "Douglas-san, will that do?"

Douglas looks closely at the spool, then looks down to the ledge, across the river, then back to the spool, then to Sakura. "Yes, that'll do very well, actually. It should be strong enough to make fast down there and up here. Pilot, can you take one end of the line and make it fast to yourself, so we can pull you back up if there is nothing down on the ledge?"

Kerry nods. "Should be able to... pay it out first, though, I don't want it to yank me up short."

Sakura says, "I know it's really light, but it's strong and there should be enough to get across. I just don't know if that's what you want?"

Douglas says, "That should be enough, Doctor. Thank you!"

Sakura says, "You don't have to thank me, Douglas-san! I just want to see us all across the river safely."

Douglas grins quietly. "Same here. All right. Let's run out the line, and coil it so it can run free. We'll make one end fast to the Pilot, so we can pull him back if need be... or if there's something down there that will let us cross this ravine..."

Kerry sets to work, and shortly has the first few meters of rope fastened into a shoulder-to-crotch harness that leaves his wings clear. "Okay... let's give this a try." He pulls the feather out of his tunic and prepares for takeoff.

Vash takes up the free end of rope and begins to slowly loop his fist in it. "Doug, give me a hand here..." He digs his heels into the turf, setting down as only an armadillo can. "Grab some line. Let's make sure our Pilot doesn't get away from us, yeah?"

Sakura says, "What do you wish me to do?" Douglas nods, grabbing hold of the line behind Vash and taking a few deep breaths as he coils the line around his forearm. If Pilot falters, this is going to hurt... best not to think of that. Sakura says, "Douglas, if something happens you'll rip your arms to shreds! We need to wrap something around that first!"

Vash says, "Actually, I've got most of the torque right here. Doug's mostly anchoring me."

Sakura says, "Won't it do you just as much damage, Sir?"

Kerry chuckles. "With me on the other end? Sakura, you could pick me up with no trouble."

Vash grins widely and raps on his shoulder. "Not likely, Doctora, but I appreciate the concern."

Sakura looks concerned, but nods. If they're sure, she won't argue. Fret, but not argue. Douglas blinks to Sakura. "Ah... good point, Doctor. I hadn't thought of that..." He looks around, uncoiling the line from his arm. He nods, then takes his shirt off, using that as a buffer between him and the line. "Perhaps, Pilot, but not when you fall forty feet, and all of a sudden all the slack in the line goes away quickly. Thank you again, Doctor..."

Sakura grins a little at Douglas, "Saves me some work, Douglas-san."

Kerry chuckles again. "Douglas... I don't fall. But I might be moving at a bit of a clip, I suppose. I hope not."

Douglas says, "I certainly hope you don't, Pilot. But it is probably best to be prepared..."

Kerry braces himself on the edge of the miniature canyon. "Ready?" -then skreeks in annoyance as he is blown off the edge by a gust of wind before he was quite ready. However, he recovers and manages to make a creditable flight, landing hard on the ledge after an obviously buffeted flight through the roiled air over the river. He waves a wing at his compatriots. "So far, so good!" Kerry stays fastened as he explores the ledge, though he first carefully puts the feather away. It really does work... I wouldn't have gotten even half that far without it.

Vash straightens up a little bit, and peers down over the edge. He waves to Kerry. "Looks like he made it."

Sakura claps twice! "Good show, Kerry-san!" Kawaii looks up suddenly at Sakura's clapping, from where he'd been rooting idly around some bushes. He trots over to stand by Sakura, then gives a short squeal at Kerry, his tail wriggling madly. Sakura giggles at Kawaii. "I'm happy for him too!"

Douglas blinks at Kerry, and starts breathing again. "Thank God," he mutters.

Sakura shoulders her backpack. "Now what? Do we cross after him?"

Vash doesn't quite unbind himself yet. "Let's see if he finds anything before we thank the okami just yet..."

Douglas nods quietly, a little worriedly. He raises his voice. "See if there's a tunnel or a fault there, Pilot. Something we can climb up, at least..."

Sakura smiles at Vash, more than a little pleased that he understood. "I was just thanking o-kami-sama for seeing him safely across. I will thank them again if he finds anything, for certain."

Vash hehs and turns back to the precipice. "I'll thank them if Doug and I get away with our flesh intact."

Kerry wanders around the boulder-strewn ledge, exploring it. He disappears behind one of the boulders at one point for several minutes, pulling a bit more rope behind him. Vash squints a bit in the midday sun, adjusting his shades one-handed. He had better not be stopping to take a leak. Douglas lets the line play out as needed, worriedly looking over Vash's head at the ledge far below. Kerry reappears after a few minutes and calls across. "We've got something back here, looks like a tunnel. This boulder's in the way, though!"

Kawaii has gone back to idly rooting around the trees near where the rest of the Indigo's crew stands. He seems completely uninterested in the nearby chasm. Sakura slips over to check on what Kawaii is doing... Kawaii looks up and grunts happily at Sakura. He's chewing busily, little bits of acorn shell dribbling from his mouth, and he's got dirt on the end of his snout. Sakura grins and goes back to the group... Douglas glances behind himself. "Do you think the dryads would mind if we tied the line off to one of the trees?"

Vash says, "I don't imagine so... provided we don't tear the tree up."

Douglas nods and looks over the line. "We should have enough. All right... Doctor, could you make fast the end of the line to the nearest tree?

Vash jerks his head toward the tree line. "That one there, Doctora, where our friend is working. Looks stout, no exposed roots." Sakura nods. She helps tie off the rope to the sturdy looking tree.

Kerry ties off his end of the rope to one of the more solidly set boulders, setting it so that the pull will tend to tighten it rather than pull it loose. He calls back across the ravine, "Make some kind of harness to slip over it; that way you won't fall in if something goes wrong!"

Sakura says, "Maybe we can use one of the packs?"

Douglas says, "There's a rider with handles on the line that we can use to slide down, actually. Unless you're worried about going too fast, I'd recommend using that..."

Vash smirks. "Surely none of us are worried about that."

Sakura says, "I'm not worried about going too fast. I'm worried about not being able to stop going too fast. Near the end especially."

Douglas says, "We should tie a rope to it, however, so that we can pull it back up... and we can use that line for braking towards the end, as well..."

Sakura says, "I'll go first..."

Vash nods. "Good. The rest of you go on down. I'll tend to the line just in case, until you're down."

Sakura runs back to the tree and scoops Kawaii up, depositing him in her backpack for the trip down. Douglas blinks to the Doctor and nods, bending down to make fast the end of another coil of rope to the runner. Sakura takes the runner and waits for the signal... Kawaii gives a grunt of surprise as he's hastily scooped up, but wriggles around until he can stick his head out of the backpack and see. He looks around happily, grunting quietly to Sakura as she prepares. However, once he realizes she's going out on the line his eyes widen in shock and he gives one long, forlorn squeal... then hastily pulls his head back into the backpack, where he kicks and shoves things around until he's well down into it. The occasional unhappy grunt can still be heard...

Vash busies himself tending to the main line, checking the knots at the tree, line tension, and other various and sundry factors. He nods to the Doctor and smirks, making the sign of the Cross. "See you on the other side, Doctora." There's another unhappy squeal from deep within Sakura's backpack.

Douglas says, "Good luck, Doctor, though it's a safe enough trip." Provided the Pilot tied off the line strong enough, and we keep a good grip on the line.

Vash grins and makes another, smaller cross. "Hang on there, ninyo." Sakura closes her eyes and goes... as she swings out over the small chasm, a long, panicky, "eeeeeeeeeee...!" comes from her pack. Sakura is silently glad that the little one is making enough noise to cover her whimper. She makes it across without any trouble, although she gets a couple of pretty good jerks near the end of the trip as Douglas tries to slow her down a tiny bit late. Vash snickers, standing on the edge and watching her go. "That's right, ride it, ninyo! RIDE 'EM!" Douglas holds his breath, his eyes widening as Sakura almost hits the wall, the line jumping in his hands... but he finally lets it out with a heavy sigh as she makes it safe and sound.

Kerry catches her at the last minute, his leather wings stopping her before she gets to the boulder. "Welcome aboard, Doctor."

Sakura opens her eyes. "Ack. I hope we can find another way back..." Kawaii stops squealing and struggles up again once Sakura makes it safely to the other side. He finally shoves his head out of the pack and stares wildly around, a bit wide-eyed and panting in relief. Sakura grins at Kawaii. "I agree completely, little one." Kawaii whews!, licks his chops several times, then nuzzles Sakura lightly on the back of the neck and grunts firmly at her several times.

Kerry skrees, "We won't have a time limit on the way back. We can afford to go around. I just hope Vash and Doug can move the boulder, or we're going to have to climb up the rope to get back out."

Sakura says, "That would be unpleasant..."

Kerry skrees, "Tell me about it. I'm going to have to do that myself, anyway. I'll need to unfasten the line."

Douglas says, "You next, Captain?"

Vash says, "Not sure. Last man down's not gonna get a brake... I might be better suited to soaking that up than you."

Douglas arches an eyebrow and nods, "It's a synthetic line, it would be hard to brake on it. But all right..." He prepares himself, pulling the runner back up and taking slow, deep breaths. He checks to make sure Vash is ready, before hesitating a few moments.

Vash takes up the extra line and sets himself deep. He digs his heels in and drops his center of gravity down low. He takes a breath. "Good luck, Doug."

Douglas nods to Vash. "Thanks, Captain..." Then the cougar adjusts his grip on the runner, and steps off the edge of the ravine... Vash watches Doug descend, and grits his teeth; slowly, slowly tightening his grip and shifting his weight backwards gradually as Doug makes his way down, pulling him up to a smooth stop well in advance of any boulder hazards.

Douglas slides down the line, a little unfamiliar with the method of transportation, but he does manage a relatively untroubled landing, courtesy in no small part to Vash's much better braking. He lands a little heavily, due to his large frame, and straightens, blinking as he looks back up to the top of the ravine and waves to Vash. "Good heavens... that's a longer run than it looks from up there..."

Sakura grins, "I wouldn't know. I didn't look."

Douglas grins to Sakura quietly. "I don't blame you!"

Sakura giggles, "I had my way, I would have been in the bag with Kawaii."

Vash grunts at the sky through clenched teeth, "Hoboy... unnh!" He plunks down on his backside, panting a few seconds before standing, dusting himself off, and walking up to the edge again. He waves down to the crew. "Nice ride! Hey, Kerry, you want a lift now?"

Kerry gives Vash a thumbs-up and attaches his harness to the sliding block. He spreads his wings, taking his feather out again, and calls up, "Ready!"

Vash nods, wrapping the cord around his fist. "Alright! Hit it, Kerry!" He digs in, dropping his center again, though... not quite as much this time. It actually looks fairly ridiculous, the bat flapping away at full bore and moving slowly up the line. The feather helps, but it's still an effort for Vash to pull him all the way back to the top of the ravine. Eventually he gets there, though, and sprawls tiredly beside the armadillo. Vash plunks back down on his backside when the bat finally makes landfall on his side. He grins and pants a little bit, running the back of his hand across his head plates. "You're heavier than you look, Pilot."

Kerry grins tiredly. "Nonsense. It's just the friction in the sliding block."

Vash hehs and sits back on his elbows. "I'll buy that. I'm too tired to argue."

Douglas peers over and around the edge of the boulder, and grins slightly. "It looks like we can go up this way... if we move the boulder. There looks like a way up." He frets slightly, examining the face of the cliff. A few crumbs of rock skitter off of it. "The wall's brittle, though. It'll be a trick to tunnel through it..."

Sakura says, "Can we move the boulder together, Douglas-san?"

Douglas says, "Very likely, Doctor. We can use a simple lever; between us we should be able to move the boulder away..."

Sakura says, "Maybe the gentlemen up there can send us something down to lever it away with..." She cups her hands over her mouth and shouts across the gorge, "Vash-san, Kerry-san! Can you send us a good solid stick to use as a lever?"

Douglas nods, "A good thought, Doctor." He looks up at the two at the top of the cliff, as Sakura calls up to them.

Kerry calls back, "Dunno! We'll look. How about undermining the boulder?"

Sakura looks askance at Douglas. "Would that work?"

Vash grunts softly and sits up. "Now that I can do."

Douglas looks at the boulder, then back to Kerry. "How do you mean, 'undermining'? There's not much we can undermine without risking the ledge, I imagine..."

Kerry shrugs. "Okay, you're the engineer. We'll look."

Sakura says, "Want to give it a try while they're looking, Douglas-san?"

Douglas nods, "Yes, let's, Doctor. It certainly can't hurt..." Sakura slips her backpack off and puts her back against the rock, getting ready to push with her legs. Kawaii looks intently at Sakura, his ears flopping over... then he bounds out of the backpack and trots over to stand next to Sakura, nosing at the boulder curiously. Douglas replaces his shirt, and leans against the rock as well, taking in a few deep breaths again, trying to brace his feet against the ledge's ground. Once he gets a good foothold, he nods to Sakura. "Ready, Doctor?"

Vash hmms, rooting about in the near tree line. He kicks around in the brush for awhile, before coming up with a relatively long and reasonably straight length of stick. He sights down the length of it and shrugs. "This looks like it'll do... can't say if it's rotted inside or not, though. It looks strong, anyway."

Kerry skrees, "So, bang it on the ground a few times. If it can't handle that, it certainly won't lift a multi-ton rock."

Douglas and Sakura strain on the boulder, and it barely tips, but they can't push it over. Douglas finally stops straining, and gasps loudly. "Damn!" he mutters. "Er, pardon me, Doctor. It looks like we'll need that lever after all."

Sakura grins. "It was worth a try..."

Douglas grins weakly to Sakura. "That it was." He looks up at the other two. "It looks like they found something..."

Sakura laughs, "It's a good thing too, because we're certainly not going to be able to move this thing without herniating something."

Vash sighs, "I can just dig around the rock to get us into the tunnel. Is all that necessary?" He gives the stick a solid thwack against a blackened stump. The stick doesn't break, and Vash can feel the blow reverberate up it to his arms. Vash nods, softly. Ngh. Solid, all right. He switches the stick to the other hand, and rolls his shoulder, shaking out his hand from the blow. "This'll do for a lever, yeah."

Kerry skrees, "Take it along down with you, then. Although I'm not going to be much of a brake for you, I'm afraid."

Vash shakes his head, and slides the stick into the straps of his backpack, across his shoulders. "Don't sweat it. If you slip, just let go. Can't have you taking a dive on us..." He grins, "And besides, if anyone can take it, I can." He kneels down and takes hold of the runner. "When you're ready."

Kerry looks suspiciously at the cable, then takes it up in his wing-claws. "I suppose I can try..."

Douglas chuckles, albeit weakly. "I know. Oh, ho. Look out, here he comes now..." Sakura steps to the side a little... away from the landing area. Douglas blinks up at the tableau above, and starts to brace himself to move and try to catch Vash in case the runner moves too fast for Kerry.

Vash nods. "Drop your center of gravity as much as you can. Don't try to jerk too hard, you'll jolt yourself. Just tighten up and lean back slowly." He straightens up. "I just don't want you to hurt yourself. Anyway... here we go."

Kerry looks suspiciously at his captain, who seems not to have noticed that he doesn't actually have palms to his hands. "Tighten up how?"

Vash turns, and gives a winsome grin. "You'll figure something ouuuAUUGHHH!!" His portion of the cliffside crumbles and he immediately disappears over the side of the ravine, FLYING down the line. "Ayyy, cagaaaada! AIIIIIIIIIYYYYYAAAAHHHHH!! As if actively attempting to weaken Douglas' resolve, the people on the ground may note that he is, in fact, smiling. Kerry skreeeeks as Vash goes over the edge and manages not to get caught as the nylon rope whips out of his claws.

Sakura has smiled in these kinds of situations. Usually it's a smile of sheer panic... she braces herself for the impact on the small shelf. Kawaii squeaks and dives for cover -- safely behind the boulder! Douglas didn't really expect Vash to come down QUITE so fast. He has enough time to notice this fact; Vash might, in fact, see very clearly Doug's eyes widening in shock, even more so at what must be the bloody INSANE smile on the 'dillo's face. "Oh, bloody HE-!"

And then Vash careens into him. Vash releases the line at the last moment and tucks his head, trying to keep his less rounded bits out of the way when he makes contact. And make contact he does. For a moment Douglas is back with the rugby team as Vash's shoulder strikes him with a textbook tackling maneuver.

Kerry manages to catch the braking rope before it slithers off the edge into the gorge, but much too late to do any good. He peers nervously over the edge to see what has happened... Douglas's breath leaves him in one loud gasp, as the 'dillo slams into him, in seemingly a purposeful body check. Any instant thought of a snappy witticism is lost as his back then meets the rock face, and Doug almost but not quite blacks out from the impact, or at least imagines he nearly does. Wide-eyed in shock still, he can only sink to the ground, trying to swallow in lungfuls of air, not even able to speak. Which is probably a good thing, because what he would have to say would doubtless include choice obscenities.

Vash goes limp as best he can, on the rebound from the impact rolling clear and going flat like many an ancestor before him. He doesn't open his eyes, or move, for several long, long moments. He coughs, at length, and croaks, "Hey... Doug. You alive?"

Douglas eventually manages to catch his voice, to manage to talk in something other than a halting, gasping rasp. "Wishing... that... I wasn't... Captain..." He then levels an accusatory glare at Vash. "Tell me... you didn't... enjoy that... please..."

Kerry chirrips to himself in relief as his shipmates pick themselves up. He wanders around the cliff-top, making sure that nothing was left behind before -- well, if -- he detaches the main cable and glides back to join them.

Sakura says, "Well, let's give this rock another try..."

Vash grunts, twice. Once to inhale and then again to roll onto his back, opening his eyes to see the river floating above him. He smiles a little, making a low sound in his throat. The noise builds up, at first a low, internalized chuckle that eventually breaks out into full-scale laughter. "Wooohahahah! I LOVE MY JOB! I- *hrk*-" Any further merriment is precluded by a brief fit of coughing. He curls up on his side, giggling in between coughing. Kawaii, who has cautiously poked his snout out from behind the boulder, hastily ducks back out of sight. The occasional dubious snort can be heard from the possible tunnel entrance.

Douglas closes his head as he slowly regains his breath, his head bumping against the rock slightly. "I'm going to kill him," he says deadpan. "It's the only reasonable thing to do." He blinks then, and opens his eyes. But not if he's injured... "Doctor... Captain doesn't sound well at all..."

Vash tries to force himself to sit up, "I'm *hack* sorry, Doug, I just, heh, *koff* can't believe we lived through that... eheh... heh... whew..." He wipes his eyes and sits up.

Douglas winces, rubbing at his ribs. Nothing seems to be broken, for the moment. "Yes, well... neither can I, for that matter..."

Sakura goes over to the captain with her kit and looks him over. "What hurts?"

Vash smiles beatifically, looking out at the canyon. "Nothing, Doctora. Nothing at all. And you are a beautiful woman. I don't think I've said so often enough." It's the endorphins. The Captain is quite obviously high on his own hormones.

Sakura gives the captain a bemused stare. "Well, that's all very kind of you, Captain... sit up and lift your arms above your head." Douglas slowly pulls himself up, starting to breathe normally. Some part of me, he thinks, is extremely irritated with Captain for that. Even if he is eminently correct. He opens his mouth... but for the life of him can't think of a single thing to say. His mouth closes with a snap, and he looks around for the stick he had been carrying down with him.

Vash appears to sober up a bit, raising his arms up in the air. "Er, all right... I hope you're not demanding my surrender. I'm in no condition to fight back." Douglas very, very rigidly holds his tongue. Like you'd want to fight back? is on the tip of his tongue. Must... not... comment... Must... not... comment... the Doctor has enough on her hands right now... Sakura pats down Vash's sides, checking for tenderness or broken ribs. Vash grins and closes his eyes, leaning his head back. He doesn't appear to be injured or in any pain. He opens one eye and grins, "If you're looking for the gun, Doctora, you could just ask."

Sakura says, "I'm not going to shoot you, Captain." She grins at him, "It wasn't me you landed on..."

Vash smiles, "Well, there you go. You should go check up on Douglas." He looks back over his shoulder. "Albondigas. He looks like he might have to be put down. Douglas, you still with us?"

Douglas rasps, "Despite your best efforts to the contrary, yes, I am, Captain."

Vash smirks. "Ah, that hurts now, Doug. Honestly, I don't usually torpedo my crewmates at random." He slowly stands up, dusting himself off, and extricates the lever from his backpack straps. "And besides... I brought you a present." He draws his hand along the length of the lever as if he were presenting a game-show prize.

Sakura says, "Naw. I don't think we'll have to put either of you down, Captain. At least, not until you've moved this big heavy stone..."

Douglas looks... just looks... at Vash for a long moment. Then he gingerly accepts the lever and doesn't quite look like he's pondering doing an impact-stress analysis of the armadillo's head-plates with it. "Thank you," he finally says, sighing. He looks over the stone and the face, looking for potential places to use as a fulcrum-point. "That's a relief to hear, Doctor. Part of me isn't sure that wouldn't be a viable option..."

Vash dusts off his shoulders and unslings his backpack. "So let's move this rock before any more aerobatics happen."

With the lever in a strategic spot, and the three large uplifts straining at it, the boulder creaks and then tips over, landing with a crash on the flat of the ledge, and exposing a bemused Kawaii, whose curious grunt seems to say, What took you so long? He turns and trots casually down the revealed tunnel.

Last modified: 2001-Feb-02 23:33:00

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