The Tower Of Terror


lance_icon.gif owain_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title The Tower of Terror
Synopsis Three friends go out in search of adventure, and find questions to be answered.
Date July 23, 2018

The Tower

The trip in was relatively quiet and uneventful. Owain and Lance took a boat out to Staten, though they remained quite aware of the follower — while Owain had hoped they could sneak out without Squeaks, he made it a point to stay aware that she is, undoubtedly, behind them somewhere.

The trip through the greenbelt was quiet, too — there were a few stray dogs, but those were easily dispatched with some thrown rocks and sticks, at which point they decided that there was much less troublesome prey to harass.

Their trek leads them to the base of the tower, which looms ominously over their heads. Owain pauses at the base of the stairs, staring up at it in silence for a moment. “This thing is creepy.

“It’s not that… okay, so it’s a little creepy,” says Lance, pushing back the edge of his hood as he looks up at the tower with a curious expression, ‘It’s like— I mean it kind of looks like a miniature lighthouse, y’know?”

Owain might have hoped they could sneak out, but Lance very purposefully made sure that Squeaks was coming. Lighthouse trumps friendship.

“Looks pretty run down, though,” he notes, “Did you see any movement out here?”

Behind somewhere certainly is where Squeaks has put herself. She’s really real good at hiding when she doesn’t want to be found, but for the journey to the island she didn’t try too hard to be unnoticed. Not until she’s actually on the island and shadowing the boys does she really make the effort to hide. It’s probably more to make a point out of spite than to really avoid notice. She wasn’t about to be left out of this trip.

The tower is something else, and the girl peers up at it from a tangle of fallen log and new growth. The urge to approach is strong, because that looks like a really cool place — maybe a little creepy, but the whole island is full of creepy — but Squeaks resists for the moment. She’ll abandon her hiding to follow Lance and Owain inside, if they go inside.

“Kind of? The door is welded shut. Someone didn’t want people getting in. Or maybe out.” Owain frowns up at the door, crossing his arms. “Didn’t see any movement, no. Had to chase off a few dogs when I stumbled on the place, but nothing serious.”

Casting a glance back over his shoulder, Owain then turns, taking the cement stairs leading up to the wrought iron door that is, indeed, welded shut. He stops, examining the door. It’s iron, so he should be able to get past it. As Joe would say, Magneto powers are awesome.

“Might as well try the door, right?” Owain turns, peering at Lance as chrome seems to leak from the corners of his eyes, turning them into two mirrors staring out above his cheek bones. Then, the teen turns, placing his hand against the door and attempting to open it — whether that happens by breaking the welding or just bending the door out of its frame remains to be seen. “This…may take…a moment.” He sounds distracted.

Iron bends.

Hinges creak.

The moment Owain asks for passes, and in the next it seems like the door isn’t going to open after all. Then, somewhat unceremoniously, it collapses inward like a falling domino and hits the concrete floor inside with all the resonance of a small explosion. Birds in trees scatter and take flight, their wingbeats joining the echo that reverberates through the tower’s darkened interior.

Dust filters down from a ceiling several hundred feet high, some caught in decades-old cobwebs strung across the narrow expanse. Light streaming in from barred windows illuminates the ground floor, which appears cold and spartan, all stone and black-hued brick. A spiral staircase hugs the wall’s curve, leading upwards.

As the metallokinetic starts working on the door, Lance turns to look back behind them — raising a hand to beckon, even if he can’t see exactly where Squeaks might be. The sudden crash from the door has him wincing, turning back towards Owain, “Jesus— wish you’d warned me, I could’ve silenced that.”

He steps up to peer past the other teen, “Oh, wow. This is old.”

From where she’s at, Squeaks can’t see what’s happening with the door. But when it starts squeaking on old hinges she slowly raises her hands up to cover her ears, in anticipation of louder noises to come. She still startles and flinches when the door finally crashes onto the ground, hands pressing tight to her head just a second too late.

She waits a second after the initial, staying very still in the branches and green things. Her eyes lift to follow the movement of the birds then find the boys at the front of the tower again. It looks safe enough. Backtracking some steps, Squeaks picks her way through to come out of the growth in a different place than she went in.

The youngest of the three stays out in the open as she jogs the short distance to join Lance and Owain. She’s quick up the steps and already moving to slink past the older teens to get through the doorway for a really real good look.

The metallokinetic can’t help but flinch as the door suddenly gives, falling into the tower loudly. “For the record, you should probably assume that just about anything I do is going to be noisy. Moving and shaping metal is rarely quiet.” Owain glances back to Lance, then to Squeaks — he doesn’t look surprised that the youngest of the group tagged along.

After a cursory glance around, Owain steps over the door and into the tower (making it a point to get inside before Squeaks), taking a moment to let his eyes adjust to the light. “Wonder how long this place has been closed up,” he muses aloud, chrome eyes raising up to the ceiling, and the old staircase that connects the top floors to the lower floors.

He does finally turn to peer at the girl who decided to tag along. “At the very least, let me go in first, okay?” He sounds a little bit exasperated.

Owain’s path leads him up the staircase, which shudders under his weight, but ultimately holds — and suggests that, at least as long as Lance and Squeaks follow him one at a time, the rivets affixing it in place are in no danger of coming loose from the wall.

It’s a long climb. More than two hundred rickety steps separate the tower’s ground floor from the loft situated at the top. His companions follow his progress with craned necks and eyes squinted against the falling dust and microscopic debris until he crests the topmost step and disappears.

Or seems to.

The reality is nothing quite so dramatic. If they listen carefully, they can still hear him moving as he enters the chamber above.

Here, the windows are larger and without bars, allowing the natural light to filter inside and fully fill the room. A folding cot sits beneath the most expansive of the windows, dressed in wool bedding more appropriate for winter than the summer months stretching out ahead of them.

It’s a safe assumption that whoever once called this tower home hasn’t — not for at least a whole season.

More notable than the blankets on the cot is a wooden table with a map of Staten Island spread out from end to end, sections marked off in ordinary black ink and labeled with cramped, feminine-looking handwriting.

Staten Island Trade Commission, reads one quadrant.

Traffickers, reads another.

Nearby, on a moth-eaten armchair, a journal with a cover crafted from soft leather awaits its owner’s return. Above it, taped to the wall, is a collage of charcoal drawings by an artist of average skill. In one, a wolf in mid-leap swallows the moon. In another, a flock of birds descends on the body of a small woman or child. Others, more detailed, look similar to faces Owain thinks he might recognize.

A man with an eyepatch and flat, dour expression looks like he could be Avi Epstein.

He’s joined on the wall by extremely rough facsimiles of Owain’s father, Griffin Mihangle; Benjamin Ryans, head of the Ferrymen’s Special Activities Division back when Owain and his family were still under their protection; a woman whose dark, intense stare could only belong to Huruma Dunsimi; and a stranger whose prominent brows, widow’s peak, and sullenly regal bearing Owain has only seen in photographs on the news and in books.

The Midtown Man. Sylar.

“Hey, don’t push,” Lance chuckles as Squeaks scrambles to get inside, letting her in before stepping after her - looking around the inside of the first floor with the eager interest of a kid on an adventure.

Which, technically, he is. Even if he’d argue that he’s not a ‘kid’ anymore.

There’s a hint of anxiety masked as he watches Owain make his way up, and then he follows - one at a time, making sure nobody’s on the stairs at the same time as anyone else. Cresting into the room, his eyes widen a bit.

“This is newer,” he comments, fingers brushing against the armchair which has significantly less dust than downstairs, “Someone must’ve been using this place as a camp, or— well, home, I guess.” On Staten Island, this is almost luxurious!

His head lifts, then, looking up to the drawings. “Not bad. I mean, they aren’t Brynn but— whoa, hey, it’s the Stork! And is that Gabriel?” It’s been a long time since they’d seen the man with those dark brows, but he is in a lot of history books these days.

“You can’t tell me what to do,” Squeaks very calmly says in response to Owain. Too calmly. She waits her turn for the stairs, watching first one then the other boys go up and up and up. She’s patient. Mostly. At least, she spends the time walking the perimeter of the ground floor instead of complaining or huffing until it’s her chance to go up the stairs.

She doesn’t rush, but she doesn’t have the same bit of caution as the boys do. She’s a lot smaller than either of them so she makes short work of her climb without much worry for the creaky-squeaky stairs. There’s been plenty of those things climbed in the Underneath, an above one shouldn’t be much different.

Squeaks pauses just inside the room just long enough to say, “Woah.” The word is quiet and drawn out, followed by a very real attempt to see everything all at once. She circles passed the pictures of the people, not really recognizing anyone — except for the one Lance called Stork, that picture gets a second look. With little concern at all for who’s property it might be, the girl scoops up the journal and drops herself onto the armchair once she gets to it. Books are a treasure that cannot be ignored, and she’s definitely going to see what stories are inside this one.

“I’m not telling you what to do, I’m asking you not to be stupid and to let the person with the gun, so to speak, go first.” Owain rolls his eyes at Squeaks, though the action is lost with the chrome coloring on his eyes.

Once he’s upstairs, a look of amazement settles over his features as he looks over the contents of the room. “This is…” He pauses at the map, fingers tracing over it. “This is amazing.” He lets his silver gaze travel over the depictions on the walls, pausing at the image of his father, then again at the image of the Midtown Man.

“I wonder what all of this was for?” He glances to Squeaks. “What that say? Could you read it out loud, please?” He asks nicely, sure that the teen is pretty irate at him for being protective. He leans closer to the map, idly studying it.

“I bet my boss would like to see some of these drawings.” He gestures to the drawing of the wolf, as well as the drawing of the birds.

November 10, 2011

Eric Doyle
Else Kjelstrom
Liette Fournier
Lorraine Fournier
Lyle Bennet

The future cannot be changed, only mitigated. I’m taking Trafford back to consolidate Volken’s remaining resources and combine them with what’s left in the Maxwell account. Half will be set aside for Special Activities and those who choose to remain behind. The rest buys passage across the border, better lives overseas for the survivors.

Our Council cannot risk a large scale evacuation of Pollepel Island as long as there is a mole inside the Ferrymen. To leave now would only result in a massacre worse than the one at Cambridge — my best hope is to lure them out into the open in the coming weeks, and to continue to make preparations for January.

My heart is heavier for keeping the specifics from men I trust, but as I do not know what ability the mole possesses—

I have only Gabriel; I have ever only had Gabriel.

The request is met with a vaguely waving hand, something that falls between acknowledging and shooing. Squeaks folds her legs criss-cross and gets all comfy cozy while she reads through the first page or so.

After she's read through it once, she starts reading again but now it's out loud. Squeaks’ read-aloud is careful but clear, only slowing or stumbling over unfamiliar names. When she's finished, she looks at Lance for explanation. Because if anyone can answer all her not spoken questions about what's written, she knows he can.

She starts to read, and Lance leans against an arm of that armchair to wait while she starts reading; arms folding over his chest, the fingers of one hand anxiously tapping against his other arm.

Then she starts reading, and with the first words his eyes widen slightly. “Eric…” A glance to Owain, but Owain never really knew the puppeteer. He looks back down to Squeaks, then, listening as she reads. “Damn,” he breathes out, “This is Eileen’s journal, Owain…”

As Squeaks reads the journal, Owain slowly wanders over to the collage of drawings, his chrome gaze fixed on the sketch of his father; the actions put his back to his friends, which is probably a good thing. Means they can't see the fury on his face as the journal dredges up unpleasant thoughts that he has stuffed down.

Once the girl is done reading, Owain’s hand darts out, ripping the picture of his father from the wall. He silently apologizes to whoever may have drawn the picture, as he promptly begins to rip the image into tiny little pieces, letting them flutter down to the ground around his feet.

He doesn't speak, a dark expression etched into his features.

“Hey— “ Lance quickly steps over, reaching out to rest a hand on his friend’s shoulder.

“Hey,” he says softly, “I know you’re angry at him… but do you want to just be angry, or do you want to do something about it, Owain? Because now— “

He glances back to the journal, then to him, “— now I think we can.”

Owain’s actions draw a look from Squeaks. She doesn't need to see his face to know that posture. And when Lance goes to comfort the him, she quietly tucks the journal away into her overalls for safe keeping. She's going to hang onto it, and maybe make sure it finds its way to Gillian.

Slipping off the armchair, the girl resumes investigating the room. She's careful, even in the smallish space, to keep a little bit of distance between herself and the older teens. Every so often she flickers a look in their direction. Bits and pieces of things are touched with light fingers, until she gets to the map. That, too, is picked up to be gently rolled and taken back.

“Do something about it,” Owain replies, watching as the last shreds of the image of his father flutters to the ground. “Show this to people. Tell them the truth.”

The metallokinetic stands up a little more straight, then, and takes a deep breath. “I'm fine,” he mumbles, before he sets about quietly and carefully collecting the pieces of the picture of his father.

“Let’s see what else we can scrounge up. This can't be it,” Owain says in a quieter tone, turning to gently gather the other drawings.

“We will. We’ll go over the journal, and— yeah, we’ll figure out who to show it to,” Lance says with a firm nod, fingers dragging off his friend’s shoulder as he moves away. Then he’s turning to look back around the room. Squeaks has the map and journal, Owain’s gathering up the drawings… he goes for the deeper search. Under the cot’s mattress, taped under the table. All the hiding places for things — natural, for someone who grew up in safehouses.

“Who could have been staying here,” he asks, bemused, “I mean, that journal must’ve been on Pollepel… maybe this is where Gabriel was staying?”

With slow and careful hands, the map is rolled up. It must be done carefully so the paper doesn’t crinkle or fold — you never fold a map, after all — to keep all the information on it safe. As the image begins to be hidden inside itself, Squeaks casts a sidelong look at Lance. “I’m taking it to Gillian.” There’s no room for arguing in who it’s going to. But she might allow some reading before the journal makes it to its destination. She probably will.

The map on the other hand…

Once it’s rolled up, not too tightly, it’s tucked into her overalls also. It’s safer there, and comfortably in her possession. Squeaks leaves Lance and Owain to continue with their own looking and looting. She takes a final look around the room as she backs up to the doorway and one step through, so she can go down the long spiral stairs for another look around the bottom floor.

A bit too caught up in his irritation, Owain doesn’t catch Squeaks slipping out like he would when not irate about his dad being a traitorous asshole. “I want to read it. See if I can find anything to prove it was my shitty father.” He takes the last drawing down and, along with the pile of torn up images, gently sets them into his backpack.

“Either Gabriel, or maybe whatever incarnation of Eileen that showed me how she died,” Owain replies. He lets Lance dig in the hiding places; he in turn slinks the parameter of the room, looking to see if there are any other points of interest within the room, fingers tracing along the wall.

At least he didn’t punch anything this time?

The tips of Owain's fingers skim over brick and stone, gathering still more dust. He finds, at one point, a white feather wedged in the gap between two small blocks. When he examines it in the light, brown-gold barring becomes visible and almost seems to flicker against the sun.

Something compels him to look up.

When he does, a barn owl’s soulful brown eyes gaze placidly back at him.

They are not alone here.

Lance's search yields more: paperwork hidden between the cot’s mattress and its rusting frame. As he unfolds it between his hands, a photograph of a teenage girl slips out and flutters down to settle on the floorboards. Fair hair, skin, eyes. Freckles. Her expression is dour, and although the writing on the back of the photograph reads Sibyl Black, the identification papers have been filled out on behalf of a Sibyl Epstein.

Also: a black-handled utility knife. Burner phone. Lipstick.

“If nothing else, it might exonerate Eileen,” Lance notes as he kneels beside the bed to look in the usual — and most obvious — hiding place, peeling the cot’s mattress up to peer beneath it, “You could… you know, bend the truth a little and say he confessed to you just before he died. You found the journal in his stuff, let the media go from there. I mean it’s not the truth of how you found out, but I doubt anyone’ll believe ‘some birds told me’, you know, man? Hey, here’s something…”

The photo’s picked up as it hits the floor, and he considers it. “Don’t know her,” he murmurs, putting it back with the other paperwork, “Sibyl Black? Epstein? Maybe Gillian’ll know.” Setting it all on the floor carefully, he picks up the burner phone, flipping it open and trying to turn it on. Maybe there’re some text messages or something that’ll leave a clue as to who this was?

“Why did they even have a phone,” he asks aloud, maybe to Owain or maybe to himself, “There’s def no service out here.”

Traveling down the stairs is definitely easier than going up and, as her feet reach the concrete at the bottom, Squeaks tilts her head back to look up. She almost expected one of the boys to call her back, but maybe Owain caught on that she’s not going to listen to him. She huffs and looks back to the level she’s on.

Nose wrinkling at the dust, the youngest of the three steps around the stairs to follow the curve of the wall. Fingers reach out and trail along the brick and stonework.

“That might be something,” Owain replies. “Not like he didn’t lie to me for years, so really it wouldn’t be any skin off my nose to stretch the truth to expose him.” It’s definitely something for the teen to think about, for sure.

Quietly, Owain reaches out and plucks the feather from the wall, running his finger along its edge as he examines it. Then, a simple flick of his gaze, and those strange mirror eyes of his are staring up at the owl, brows raising a bit. For a moment, he doesn’t say a single word, simply sharing a moment with the nocturnal raptor.

“Who knows,” he murmurs, not looking away from the owl. “Wonder if she’s watching us right now,” he adds, pointing up at the owl. “Always loved owls.” He tilts his head to the side, fascinated; the feather is tucked away into his backpack.

The phone’s tucked away in Lance’s messenger bag along with the papers and photograph; the utility knife, his pocket. No point in wasting a good knife. Then he’s pushing himself back up to his feet, glancing up towards the owl as Owain comments on it.

“Huh,” he muses, “I mean, she’s dead… but you did say the birds talked to you, so who knows? Maybe she found a way to survive past death, kind of. Like Will.”

Another look goes for the stairs and up, but Squeaks doesn’t try nearly so hard as before to see if the older teens are coming back. She lets her path wind around, fingers tracing the wall, until the wall opens up again where the door used to be. She steps over the door and through the opening. The steps are hopped down, one at a time, and on the ground she starts circling the outside the opposite way while looking at the base of the tower for anything interesting.

“Hope so,” Owain replies, watching the owl for a moment longer. “If that’s you, I’m sorry,” the metallokinetic calls gently up to the owl, sighing softly. Then, his eyes turn back to the rest of the room. After a moment, he stalks over to the chair, running his hand over it and then checking down in and under the cushion.

“C’mon,” says Lance then with a shake of his head, stepping back over towards the stairs, “I think we’ve pretty much scoured the place… let’s take our findings back to the mainland and see if anyone can make anything of them. Maybe we can find what’s on this phone, even. Dead battery right now.”

Crumbling towers traditionally do not have much in the way of USB charging docks.

Feet crunch and rustle old leaves and branches as she wanders. Her path meanders from the tower a little ways, then circles back to the cement steps leading to the now crashed-open door. Squeaks tips her head back to look up, blue eyes curious and following the outline of the building until they settle on the lines that make up the outside staircase. That’s interesting.

The girl runs up the steps, but instead of going into the door she picks her way around the building until she finds the start of those outside stairs. A foot carefully settles on the first, and then the second, until very soon she’s climbing up and up all over again.

Owain spares one last look to the owl, before nodding to Lance. He glances around once…finally notices that Squeaks has made herself scarce…and with a grumble, he descends the staircase, making sure to take care not to collapse the entire thing.

When he reaches the bottom and sees no trace, he gets a bit more frantic. Stupid, Owain. She can take care of herself, but what if something happens to her when he could be around to prevent it? Leaving Lance to descend the stairs, Owain slips out of the door, turning in time to see Squeaks going up the stairs.

He keeps himself from griping at her, and instead circles the building to find the base of the stairway; he doesn’t start up the stairs, yet. “How bad are those stairs?”

It’s only after Owain’s reached the bottom that Lance picks his way down carefully, moving to follow the other teenager out the tower’s door with the messenger bag slung over one shoulder. “Squeaks? Where— “ Hearing his friend’s voice, he circles around after him, peering upwards, “Whoa. Careful up there! Those look pretty rickety…”

“I can see everything.” Squeaks doesn’t sound very concerned at all. She climbs up and up, the stairs creaking and rattling beneath her. But she’s small, so it’s probably mostly okay. She leans over the outer railing to look down at Owain and Lance, then up to the platform. It’s not too far away, but…

She turns to start back down the stairs instead of investigating further. Maybe she can come back without Nana Owain going bonkers over everything she does. The stairs might rattle and protest a little bit more as she descends, Squeaks isn’t being quite so careful as she was climbing them, but soon she’s back on the ground and taking lead back to the boat that might be there to maybe take them back across the water.

Collectively, they have things to examine. It’s way better to do it in the safety of their homes rather than the wilds of Staten Island.

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