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16 June 2007 @ 07:47 am
 

It has become more readily apparent that the island is not an immobile and harmless chunk of rock in the middle of the wide Pacific throughout the past few days. The sulphuric smoky smell that began shortly after the earthquake has only grown more intense and persistent in the warm humidity of the tropical winter, and a thin layer of wispy haze drifts between the shore and the sky. The ground is now littered fairly liberally with small to moderate sized chunks of pumice, and it has become commonplace - though still disconcerting - to see more streaking down from the sky and causing small craters in the sand.

Monet, out of dignity and snark, has taken to sitting inside of her makeshift shelter. This is in the wake of taking a little hunk of pumice to the head at some point the previous evening. She scowls out from beneath the shadows of the shelter. "This is absolutely charming. We are on a damned /volcano/." By this point, she is stating the obvious.

In terms of judging volcano safety versus earthquake safety, Cipto has gauged that the former is more important at this specific point in time, even though the two geological phenomena are often linked. Thus, he too sits in the 'doorway' of his shelter, not quite entirely indoors, but with the edges of the palm leaf roof hanging over his head. His notebook sits beside him, but he seems to be making no effort to compose today; instead, his arms are wrapped around his knees, bent up close to his chest. Monet's comment earns a long look in her direction, though Cipto's worry-lined expression does not change from the way it's been all morning. "This is not a thing to ever get used to," he offers, voice loud enough to carry, but tone itself muted with sympathy in his concern.

"No, it certainly is not." She picks up one of the little fragments of volcanic rock and stares at it. "If this island explodes and we die that way, I am going to be extremely pissed off." Monet makes a face, lips tight and brows knitted together. "This will have been a waste of two weeks of misery.”

"It would not seem right," Cipto agrees, looking upward toward the cone of the volcano, nevermind that the view is obscured by the hanging palm fronds. "It would not make sense to die after we have /not/ died from so many things..." Though his accent is as pronounced as ever, the relative fluidity with which he speaks clarifies that these are not spur of the moment thoughts. "Maybe the mountain also wants us to go home. I think more than two weeks?"

“Has it?" Monet frowns thoughtfully over that. "I have spent so long staring at the ocean that the days have blurred together into a nasty, unhappy mess." The little bit of pumice is thrown at one of the empty shelters with enough force that the palm-roof falls in.

At the sound of the collapsing roof, Cipto's instinct is to snap his forehead down against his knees and press his hands protectively over the back of his neck. He holds this position for several seconds until he is assured that the same fate does not await his own shelter, then he straightens slowly, shifting his legs into a crossed position and rubbing the side of his hand against his lower lip. "Maybe I am wrong about the time. But maybe it is good it feels like less time than it is?"

Monet sighs, "Or maybe it's a sign that I'm losing my mind from being trapped this far from civilization with impending death looming over my head." She goes back to sifting sand between her fingers now that she has broken things.

"I hope maybe we are learning things rather than losing then." Cipto shrugs almost imperceptibly, even though the words are offered as optimistically as one can manage under such circumstances. "If we are learning things, it is a reason for us to not die."

Monet chuckles quietly and entirely without humor. "I hope that there's a reason." She begins picking sand out from beneath the few nails that are not broken off. "If there is a reason, it means we are not just torturing ourselves and waiting for that damned mountain to start spewing lava at us."

"I think there has to be," Cipto continues the train of thought. "For so many bad things to happen so fast." He falls silent for several seconds, looking up at his palm frond roof with a more frown of consideration before recalling, "Merapi...it came slower before the lava. A long time of smoke first."

If one were listening very closely during Cipto's pause, one might be able to identify that his is not the only non-American-accented voice talking about volcanoes in the immediate vicinity. The sounds of one of the other, male and decidedly Australian, emanate from the direction of the beach, though the speaker is not visible through the jungle. The words don't even become particularly clear until, "...fly on up there and see if we've gotta lava dome growing..."

Monet is not so much listening very closely during the pauses as she is not paying as much attention as someone who is more considerate would during the actual talking. At hearing unfamiliar voices, accented in Australian, Monet sits up fast enough to bang her head on her shelter and knock it down. "I'm hallucinating," she decides, yet she gets up to her feet and strains to hear.

This has not been a good week for the makeshift shelters. As Monet does in her second of the day, Cipto once again ducks and covers, forearms over his ears managing to block out the still-approaching sounds of speech. When he looks up again, Monet is already standing. "What happened?" This is punctuated by another look toward the center of the island and the volcano, rather than toward the edge and the speakers.

"I'm hearing things. I have to be hearing things." Shoving pieces of shelter away from herself, Monet starts walking in the direction of those voices. She making absolutely no attempt at being subtle about this. If she is hallucinating, she seems to figure she may as well embrace it.

The voices continue; the male voice is now clearly in conversation with a female voice, also Australian-accented, though with an unpinpointable different undertone. She says, "Undoubtably, if it's already to the point that it's sending out this much pumice. I don't know how much closer we should fly, for the plane's engines' sake." "But they'll wanna know details, whatever this bloke ends up spewing," the man says. "I think we should plant the ground instruments first," the woman counters, matter of fact. "See if we can get some reading on the size of the magma chamber and then see how much we need to worry about lava domes."

Cipto squints at Monet. "I did not hear?" he begins quietly, then pushes himself into a standing position anyway, curiosity winning out and bringing him to follow in Monet's tracks.

Certain now that her hallucinations would not be discussing geology, a subject she has absolutely no interest in, she looks at Cipto with her eyes wide. "You heard." That is enough, in spite of exhaustion, poor nutrition and sulphur in the air, to send Monet running in the direction of those voices.

“We got the plane over here without it crashing, we can get up there to get a couple of shots of the caldera before the smoke gets heavier," the man suggests, tossing off the first clause rather lightly, as he is still unaware of other occupants of the island.

Cipto's eyes widen at the latest phrase cutting through the foliage, and he speeds up after Monet. "Yes, now!"

“Hey!" Monet yells loudly, "/Hey!/" She is running flat out in the direction of the island's guests. They have an airplane. That means they can /leave/. As she comes into sight of these people, she slows down, letting out a laugh that is bordering on hysterical.

The duo that Monet comes upon looks strikingly like the stereotypical expectation for geologists. Both the man - tall, solid, a little sunburned, light blond, and with more than a little resemblance to a certain other sadly missed Aussie - and the woman - short, slender, dark haired, and tanned with some fraction of Asian heritage evident in her eyes - wear heavy hiking boots, thick pants with pockets down the legs that hold various tools, notebooks, and rocks, lightweight shortsleeved buttondown shirts, and caps that say Geoscience Australia. The man holds a clipboard with extensive notes and the woman holds some sort of scientific instrument. As Monet approaches, the man gives a utterance that would be expected of the more famous individual he resembles: "Crikey! Where'd you come from?"

Cipto is not nearly so fast of a runner as Monet is. He's still catching up.

Monet's laughter continues as she sees the pair up close, complete confirmation that they are not other survivors talking gibberish or hallucinations. "United 839," she manages, between her laughter. "We've been here for weeks, there's ten or twelve of us still alive." In an entirely uncharacteristic move, she grabs onto the man and hugs him tightly, suddenly bursting in tears. "My God, we're not going to die out here."

The man is rendered momentarily unable to breathe or speak beyond an, "Ak!" as Monet latches onto his ribcage. The arm holding the notebook is pinned helplessly to his side, but he cautiously lifts the other arm and gingerly pats Monet on the back, expression utterly perplexed. The woman, though also visibly incredulous, speaks, "United 839? They one they were sure got lost for good a few weeks ago? Oh my god. You're serious?"

As the woman speaks, Cipto practically skids onto the scene, uncoordinated and kicking up sand in a manner unlike his usual controlled motions. Upon seeing the pair of scientists, he blinks hard and lets out a high-pitched laugh, then tilts his head upward and says in high Javanese, "{I knew that couldn't have been the end!}"

Monet immediately disengages from the man when Cipto catches up, brushing off her shirt and wiping at her eyes quickly. "Yes, we're serious. Incredibly serious. There are others, four of them are exploring the island to see if they could find more resources." Her eyes narrow for a moment at the volcanologist whom she hugged, a silent warning not to comment on the hug and the tears.

The hugged volcanologist, even though he has been released, is too busy being baffled by the residual pain from said hug around his ribcage and by taking deep gulping breaths despite that pain to comment on hugs and tears. The other volcanologist gives Cipto a very surprised stare at his speech, though it's hardly a look of baffled confusion. "But you had the resources to make it this long?" she begins in the process of looking back toward Monet. "That's...incredible. That's just...nobody'd believe it if you weren't the proof!" The man finally recovers enough to ask, voice strained, "D'you know how far the others've gone?"

Cipto stares upward for a few moments longer, until another short barrage of pumice begins, at which point he skitters toward Monet and the volcanologists, looking at the latter two quite intently, though without words.

Looking over her shoulder at Cipto, Monet rolls her eyes. "Please don't mind him. He forget to speak English when he's exicited or upset or sleepy or..." She trails off to leave that impression, but the rain of pumice helps keep her quiet. "They've had a few days to walk," she says of the others. "There's a few more back at our little camp... thing. Please tell me that you have a radio or a boat or the plane you mentioned."

The male volcanologist shoots Cipto a sympathetic squint at Monet's assessment of the Javanese's skill with English. "Right...we've got just the radio and the plane. Not all that big for eight people, but we can call Geosci and get more folks out here with bigger ones." The female volcanologist, however, looks all the more intently at Cipto with Monet's statement, and after the man finishes speaking, she offers in very fluid Indonesian, "{Is this better? Are you all right? We're here from Australia, because of the volcano.}"

Cipto veritably /gawks/ as the woman speaks, restraint again going out the window with a high-pitched laugh. "{You speak Indonesian!}" He states the obvious for speakers of that language. "{I'm glad! I wouldn't want to give the wrong information at an important time like this!}"

With a quick nod of her head, Monet manages a smile at the male volcanologist. "Please call them. I think I can safely speak for every single survivor in saying we want to go home." She sounds her age on the last phrase, like a woman barely out of her teens who desperately wants to leave. Her snark is even drained at the moment.

"Righto. I'd know the whole crazy stranded thing got t'you if you'd said you /didn't/ want out by this point!" the man even manages a light laugh, his normal voice returning after the squeeze. "More important to get you folks outta here before this monster," he waves toward the volcano, "starts getting any fiercer than to plant the seismometer right this second." The woman smiles at Cipto, explaining in Indonesian, "{I have some family in Jakarta. Do you know which direction the rest of them went?}"

"{I'm not entirely sure,}" Cipto tells the woman, breaking his sentence to look gratefully - a look that does speak of /understanding/ most of the phrase - at the man before continuing. "{They just said they were going around. Probably the opposite direction from what's left of the plane.}" He squints and points that way.

“I absolutely assure you that I would rather gnaw off one of my own limbs than remain on this horrible smelling island for another minute." Monet is not exactly pleading with them to get her home, but she is close. "How soon can we leave?" She glances to Cipto, her smile geniune and warm. "You were right. There was a reason for us to make it. And now you owe me a song."

For all his dealings with dangerous natural phenomena that could potentially injure him bloodily, the male volcanologist still seems quite squicked by Monet's near-plead. He wrinkles his nose and sticks out his tongue, which only induces a more intense wince because of the sulphur in the air. "For the love of Pete, don't!" His tone is only half joking. "I'll talk doublequick into that radio t'keep you from doing that!" The woman looks away from Cipto and toward the man and Monet. "He says they probably went the way away from the wreckage, that way," she points as she translates. "I think as soon as we've wired back and you two get the others that stayed on this part of the island, we'll be set to move on out."

“A song?" Cipto returns to puzzled English for a moment before Monet's point of reference comes back to the top of his mind. He then goes into his high-pitched laugh again, despite the smoke and the smell and the falling rock and the raggedness and poor supplies and near death. "Yes, there can be a song!"

It does not take much convincing. Monet eyes Cipto at his laugh, then nods back toward the camp. "Let's go get them, then. I don't want to spend a single minute longer here than I have to." She lets out another laugh as she starts walking, grabbing Cipto by his shirt's sleeve and yanking him along. "We're going home!"

Cipto has always been a light person, even before the inevitable weight loss of a scavenger's diet. Even for someone without superhuman strength, he'd be easy to drag. He puts up no resistance to Monet's pulling, though, instead only laughing louder himself. The two volcanologists smile at each other as the two survivors return to the camp to extract Clovis and Jonah, and the man muses with a laugh, "Who'd'a thunk it that our biggest discovery in the field wasn't gonna be a scientific one!" "Who could have thought?" the woman concurs, and the two start back toward their small plane and its radio.

Monet and Cipto find two Australian volcanologists...who have a two-way radio and a functional plane! Huzzah!
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