Breadcrumbs, Part I


brian_icon.gif koshka_icon.gif sable_icon.gif

Scene Title Breadcrumbs, Part I
Synopsis While exploring the world just outside of Eltingville Blocks, Brian, Koshka and Sable discover evidence of a world at a much, much greater distance.
Date April 8, 2011

Outside Eltingville Blocks

Dead branch and leaves crackle together as brush and weed is drawn back from where fencing seemingly attaches to metal post, and up above, the spiraling razor wire glints blithe and sharp, a stoic prevention method for anyone willing to climb up the diamond wire. But fortunately, Mission: Exploration has little to do with risking hooks of metal scraping flesh off shins and thighs and hands, and this becomes clear when the fencing is peeled back with a creeeeak of metal. The teenager, a boy named Eden, flashes them a white-toothed smile, letting it spring back some in the time it takes for him to brush off his palms.

It's weird to be doing this in someone's backyard (even if that someone was from before the Bomb, the attached house long abandoned), or the remains of it, all overgrown lawn, a broke down wooden fence that's been long since mofidied to permit people to squeeze through where wooden slats used to exist. Beyond, the park reserve is thick and green, the fencing line along where suburbia ends and the rural forest for which Staten Island is known for begins. Birds cheepcheep in the dense trees beyond, mysterious in the thickness of shadows, and the quiet emptiness. No roads for military trucks to suddenly careen around. No patrolling soldiers, or charity workers.

"We've only moved alongside the fence," Eden is saying, casting a look to his partner in crime — maybe a girl he's trying to impress, who looks pretty doubtful about these shenanigans, arms folded and eyeing the razor wire. "You wanna just keep watch?" He's reaching again for the fencing, peeling it back as he glances towards the others who agreed or were curious enough to come along on this expedition.

She'd sworn she'd never go wandering off again. Promised herself she'd keep her head down and out of trouble. But in the heat of the moment, surrounding for the first time in months by people her own age, Koshka agreed. Even laughed at the idea of an excursion to the far off reaches of the realm in which she's been confined to. What could it hurt, and it wasn't technically breaking any rules. And besides, the only promise was to herself. She's allowed to change her mind on those, right?

So why then, facing the fence, might she be having second thoughts? "Get out of the way," Koshka sighs with feigned exasperation. It's easier to show than signs of nervousness. Especially when dealing with her peers. Ducking, half crouching, she squeezes herself through the gap in the fence. She doesn't raise up once on the other side, but stays squatted and staring. Not for too long, though, and she grasps the fence to hold it so the others can follow through.

It was a hard choice, whether or not to come along. Sable is almost certain she's at least twenty percent too cool to go on a kid's ride like this, but with that knowledge comes the realization that being too cool is - in and of itself - sort of uncool. That she'd be game for this nonsense despite being totally awesome and above it is an indicator that she is transcendentally cool, a sort of bodhisattva of hipness, here to grace these chumps with a little aloof wisdom, mountain-top style.

Plus she found out through Koshka, and Kosh is a good kid whom Sable wants to look out for in a leather jacketed, good-bad influence kind of way. So she's here, and she's even brought her leather jacket, something she's glad of not only because of the temperature, but because of the frickin' razor wire.

Sable slips on through the gap on hands and knees, her littleness coming in handy as it does once in a she'd rather not say how often while. Sunglasses hide her distinctive eyes. Caught she won't be, dammit, but spotted she might be, and she'll bring no trouble back to her doorstep.

Brian is one of the last to go through. Being one of the largest, he held up one hand, eyeing the fence skeptically. Black boots sift through the dirt softly, carefully treading towards the fence. Blue gray eyes skim over the fence. His attention follows Koshka and Sable before he goes to his knees slowly. Lowering to his stomach the black clad man slithers through the gap.

Clad in all black, the black gripped silver pistol is strapped on the inside of his calf. His pants are somewhat baggy. Which is good to hide the fact that he has a gun to the 'kids' but bad when his pant leg gets caught up in the fence. A light growl is given as Brian tugs on it and yanks his leg away. "Don't talk so loud." He grunts over to Eden lowly, glaring faintly before looking back to Koshka. This may be just a fun exploration adventure for them, but once he found out about it, Brian saw it more of an opportunity. The more you know about your surroundings, the better.

"Don't tell me what to do," is flippant — but also quieter, Eden good natured in the face of a scowl. Or at least, apathetic. Adults. He glances back towards the girl he'd brought along himself, Angie, who hesitates before slipping through the fence once Brian is through in a fit of changing her mind — she'd rather tag along and break the rules than be alone. Like Koshka and Brian, she has a clasp of an anklet on her leg, whereas Eden is free of it himself. Or at least, bagging denim disguises his own indicator of restriction.

At least neither of them are armed. Everyone through, Eden seems intent to lead the way, a hand darting out to grip Koshka's jacket by the shoulder and urge her on her feet to dash with him for the tree line. "On your feet, soldier."

"Fucking be quiet," hisses Angie, casting an apologetic look rimmed in eyeliner to Brian, and then to Sable. Blonde, herself, hair tied back in a faux-hawk, but her clothes pragmatic against the chill and elements of excursion.

Though she's hauled upright, after the fact Koshka gives a pull of her shoulder and a dirty look to Eden. "Are you trying to get attention brought down on us?" She takes a moment to brush off her pants and hands, glancing back at Brian and Sable and Angie. Then past them, as though the boogey man would jump out of the bushes at any moment.

Tugging her jacket straight, Koshka looks back to Eden and then to the world beyond the fence, newly opened for explorations. "Which way first," she asks in general, though another glance goes to Eden. His idea, after all. She just agreed to go.

Sable's expressions tend to be slightly subdued when she's wearing sunglasses - I mean, isn't one's natural inclination while wearing shades to sort of not get worked up about stuff? The bickering, if it can be called that, earns a thin, detached smirk from Sable, a frankly sightly toolish expression that the fewer people see the better. Still, excitability is hard for Sable to suppress, and barriers are something she loves to sneak past, and as Eden breaks for the treeline, the yellow eyed girl tips her shades down and favors Angie with a peer and a grin. "Don' worry, hon. Things get hot, I'll buy y' time t' get clear." She pushes her shades back up and tilts her gaze up at Brian. "Jesus," she comments briefly, "ain't you a little old f'r this sort 'f shit?" And then she's off, ready to scamper some beats after Eden's leading charge.

After Eden's flippant dismissal, Brian looks like he might be having something else to say. A single powerful step taken forward, shoulders squared out and brows knitted together. But Angie is what eventually stays Winters' wrath on the boy. So rather than whisper harshly at him, Brian simply fixes the younger male with a heated glare. Finally he looks over to Koshka, his features softening significantly. Then to Sable. "Aren't you?" Stepping over towards Koshka, he goes to smooth her jacket over her shoulders, leaning in to whisper into her ears. "If things go bad. I'm zapping our anklets and getting us out of here. You stay close to me okay." Maybe the others will dismiss it as some fatherly wisdom or something, because the young man ends it with a tight hug from behind on the girl before starting out slowly behind Eden and Sable.

"This way."

These words to Koshka, but it's Brian that gets the uneasy glance — but Eden is more interested in exploring as opposed to challenging the older male, because there might be time for that later. Not now. Glancing to bespectacled Sable, Eden quirks a half smile and adds, "Hope you brought your breadcrumbs, Gretel," before taking off into the woods, the kind of male boundless energy that comes with experimentation in jumping off big heights, doing flips while jumping off big heights, etc etc etc.

The terrain is uneven and untamed, dead leaves shifting among the newly growing bursts of green that signify spring, and the smell of flowers and growth is thick in the damp air. Bursts of colour in purple and red in petals, but there is also that underlying decay of dead wood, struggling tangled whips of trees, a collapse stone structure crawled over with moss that Eden helps Angie over at one point, brick scattering underfoot.

It seems like it goes forever, and if something new doesn't happen soon, the teens in the crowd might be quick to get bored—

A sound cuts through the silence, over their foot steps — a hiss of expelled steam and the crack of something heavy breaking rotted wood. It's not a twig snap under foot, and certainly not close enough for such a quiet thing to be, but it brings to mind the fallen tree they'd crossed a few moments ago splintering crushed under something heavy, if unseen through the dense trees. "Just a branch falling," is Eden's suggestion despite no one asking, paused in uncertainty about where to go next.

A different sound on the wind, then, snags at the edges of hearing, catching Sable's attention over that of the others' if only because she's in the head of the pack. It's a wind chime.

Running wild has its own appeal, and Sable sheds her glasses temporarily to appreciate the tiny eruptions of blooming color, the rejuvenation of a land that could really use a good juving. She even picks up a few stones, and begins to toss them out, letting them careen and ricochet off of the trunks of trees until Brian tells her to knock it off. She obliges, though she does take a chance to fall behind a little and aim a rock at the back of Brian's head… even if she doesn't end up throwing it.

So no, Brian, she's not too old for this. Or, at the very least, she's certainly not too mature for this.

A simple rambling desire has her up at the head of the group again when the hiss whistles and the T-Rex-tree-trunk snaps and Sable stops stalk still. If she could prick her ears up, she would - her sudden freeze is animal-like in its instinctual suddenness. Her head tilts ever so slightly as she hears the faint giggle of the wind chimes, a sound that should be sweet but often ends up sounding… eery.

"Dunno what th' fuck makes them two noises…" Sable growls to her companions, lifting a finger, "shush a second… lemme try 'n' figure where that chime's comin' from."

"Hope you brought your breadcrumbs Gretel." It's said in a mock voice, sounding borderline retarded. But it's said quietly, mostly to Koshka. Apparently Brian may not like Eden. Then he lets Koshka jog off. Trailing back, allowing the group to go ahead of him. He nods on Angie with a gentle smile. "I'll take the back." He encourages softly.

At the first sound, Brian immediately drops into a crouch, hands splayed out and hel d out in front of him. One conspicuously missing a middle finger. His eyes swing around the foliage, gray eyes intently searching for the source of the noise. His eyes flick to Eden. He could be right, but Brian has been through too much shit in this city to dismiss much. Paranoia is fun. But it doesn't stop him from continuing. He continues following along in the group. Hands held out to his sides, fingers pointed. Then the sound of wind chimes fills his ears, a perplexed look crosses his features. "A t rex with a jingle collar." Brian murmurs quietly Sable-wards. His lips then seal up as he gives Sable a little nod. He inches towards Koshka. "Probably nothing." He smiles.


This from Angie, breaking from her own quietness to contribute to the conversation. Turning her back on where the snap and splinter of wood had come from, she glances to meet Sable's bright eyes before looking in a certain direction. While the breaking wood had come from somewhere where they'd just been, the jingle of metal and glass comes ahead, if a little south, and the second push of wind to generate the sound makes this difference ring clearer. She and the musician will see it at the same time, and it's blondie that urges the others to do so as well. "Look." And she points.

Difficult to see through the tangle of brown, skinny branches, and the thicker bursts of flower-dotted greenery, the house looks a little like it's sinking into the soil as well as crouching in hiding. Naked wood and green paint do well to obscure it further. Angie wanders a step closer with a wary glance back towards that hiss of steam and breaking wood, and glances to the others.

A small nod is given to Brian, though Koshka's attention is on Sable. But when Angie speaks up, blue eyes flick to her then follow the gesture. She squints, as though that would help her gaze penetrate through the broken wall of foliage. "What is… ?" The question is broken off by further hissing and wood cracking from behind. She again turns the way Angie does, following the other girl's gaze to locate the sound. "Think we should go out there? Or… find out… what that noise is first?"

So- who exactly count as the adults here? With noise before and behind, a hidden house ahead and some mysterious hissing trailing, Sable finds herself looking first to Brian then - remembering who the hell she is - she gives a impatient huff and jerks her thumb towards the house. "Le's keep pushin'," she suggests, pointing the directive towards the group generally, but focusing more on catching and meeting the eyes of the younger members (Angie in particular), the ones she expects will be more amenable to taking her shots, "Kosh, mebbe you 'n' th' Big Man," she talking about Brian and Brian, who has had some exposure to Sable during her stint at the Garden, may have had the misfortune to hear this nickname before, "c'n keep an eye 'n' an ear pointed b'hind us while we move?"

Brian creeps up behind the girls in his creepiest stalker fashion and peers over their shoulders to the house. Head cocking some, his brows furrow some. Before he's turning on the balls of his feet to face the strange hissing and wood cracking. His lips pull down and he shakes his head. "Well it's obviously the monster from Lost." He whispers. A pause, Brian rolls his shoulders back as if preparing to do something. "Well solid horror movie logic says we split up. And I think that's the smartest possible thing to do. Edwin, come with me we'll check out the noise. The girls can look at the house. Carefully." But then Sable is offering a plan too. Which has Brian hiding a snarl with a political smile. "Yeah okay. Kosh, you stay with me too. Let's go monster hunting."

"Did not come out here to take more orders," Eden grumbles, arms folding even as his alertness is directed down the same path as Koshka and Brian. Angie sends him a glance, before she's moving for the house at Sable's suggestion — maybe it's a relief to be free of the boys, Eden included, because she's swift to take this hook for herself and at least maaaybe get the "adventure" open and done with as opposed to investigating strange noises in the woods.

"Looks like this used to be a road," she comments, stepping out into a clearing that, while overgrown, does lack trees in a vaguely road-like back and forth direction not so far from where the house is obscured by the tangling brush of dead and live flora. There is an abandoned quality to it, in the way of chipped, flaking paintwork, and the wind chime they had heard dangles nearby a door that looks too swollen to properly fit into its own frame, and thus hangs open by an inch or two. The chime itself is a wooden cat, paw extended down to where birds of tinkling metal chime together when the wind blows.

Meanwhile, where the sound of that wooden crack and steamy hiss had come, is currently silent, save for the rustle of wind carrying along the smell of plantlife and, maybe strangely, the smell of heat like a forge without any detection of smoke.

"If that's the monster from Lost, then is that Jacob's house," Koshka asks as she turns her attention back toward the house. Bad things happen when you go into strange houses in the woods, it's a well known fact. Which is what gives her firm reservations about moving forward and going into that structure. The Blaire Witch could be living inside that house. "Lesser of two evils," she says more to herself, and with another glance behind.

Taking in a breath, Koshka catches wind of that hot air smell. It gives her pause enough to not follow immediate after Sable and Angie. "Something's back there," she says, feet finally moving, carrying her backward toward the house. In no rush, mind, careful to keep her balance while she watches the way they'd come.

Creepy? Yeah, creepy. But cool. Sable's weird eyes blink up at the chime, that wooden cat constantly threatening those birds, the wind stirring them into panicked, chirping flight. Angie's observation breaks a momentary revery, and Sable glances over at the blonde girl, blinking confusion until she processes the sounds she heard but didn't bother decoding. A- road? Yes, a road!

"Shit, how old's this gotta be t' get grown over so fast. This shit ain't 'xactly kudzu, kna'mean?" Sable says, kicking at the ground underfoot to see if she can discern some lingering element of the road, a sediment of asphalt or a layer of cobblestones. The heat in the air causes her nostrils to prick, and Koshka's words do very little to increase the sense of wellbeing. 'Something's that are 'back there' are pretty dependably bad news. "Mebbe we oughta get in th' house, eh?" she suggests, yellow eyes sweeping across the staggered prison bars of the rising forest trees, looking for whatever hisses like steam and snaps big tree limbs, not that she knows what such a thing would look like.

Koshka smells it. And in a deep breath, so does Brian. Wheels turn, eyes watching the wood neutrally before his brows arch. "Koshka." He starts out in a half whisper. And then floods his words out rapidly. "Koshka, get in Jacob's house, now!" Brian sends a brief glance at Eden. He doesn't like orders, Brian doesn't give them to him. At least for a moment, finally guilt brings him to his senses, and he flings his hand towards the house. "Get over there." He growls with stern urgency as Brian turns fully to face the wood.

Brian goes down to one knee, pulling his pant leg up. The pistol Logan had gifted him is pulled from the strap. It's held in his good hand. The one that still has a trigger finger. His other hand hangs near his waist as he straightens, hand swaying back and force in anticipation. A quiet crackle of electricity flows out from his hand, the space where Brian's middle finger would be replaced by a tongue of blue white bolts rapidly jostling and shifting about, making the rough form of his middle finger. His eyes search the forest as he takes a few back peddling steps. Boots propelling him backwards as he slowly makes his way towards the house, facing the forest all the while. Once getting a little closer, he turns sharply. "Come on. Get in there." Brian urges, starting a light jog towards the house. Revolver now in plain view.

The cat and bird windchime swings a little in the wake of warm bodies moving past the porch — Angie first, having declined to hesitate over Sable's suggestion, and then the older if smaller woman herself. Eden, inclined to stick with crowd, tears his curiousity off of whatever Brian is looking for, to follow in, but he sends a suspicious look the older man's way.

Inside, the foyer gives the impression of abandonment, with debris from fallen pieces of ceiling crunch into a powder on the wooden flooring underfoot, and empty of furniture or even light fixtures, the ceiling water-ruined, the wallpaper swollen and bubbled at the seams, stained brown. It funnels off into a wider room, and this seems to be actually inhabitated, if erratically so — there's furniture, wooden, a coffeetable that's been dragged to the side if the marks in the old carpet seem to be of any indicaion, and a box that's been set down next to it, the table bearing papers, a few photographs.

The kitchen is old fashioned, with dirty dishes in the sink. The whole place is quiet.

"You know what's outside?" Eden asks, the question sharp and directed to Brian.

That tone, it really doesn't take long for Koshka to follow instruction. She doesn't turn to run to the house, but her backward pace turns forward. And she looks back, watching over her shoulder until her feet thump against the threshold. Turning to face the enterior of the house, she steps inside properly, quickly taking in the scene that immediately greets her.

The question from Eden draws only a shrug from Koshka. She has no idea what it is, and no longer the will to joke about it. She moves beyond the foyer and into the sitting room. Or what could pass for a sitting room, brows knitting together in anxiety. "I hope whoever is here is friendly," she says quietly, barely above a whisper.

Things are getting altogether too spooky. Adventure is but one 'mis' away from changing its nature entirely, paws growing claws, smile peeling back to reveal sharpened teeth. Sable makes for the cabin with the same instinctive urgency of a Cro-Magnon retreating to their cave - outside is danger, inside is safe. Or at least safer. If there isn't a cave bear in there.

What manner of beast lives here, friendly or not, Sable does not know. She scampers in through the foyer and slows as she sees the signs of habitation, instantly on her guard. Eden's and Koshka's questions compliment each other, each is effectively a question of identity and disposition. "'t least whoever's in here's a fuckin' who," Sable comments, sidling over the coffee table and crouching down the examine the photos - and there's more to examine too, the papers and the box! "Hey, come check this shit out," she says, voice kept low, motioning for Angie and Koshka to join her - let the boys man the perimeter, there is snooping to be done!

For a moment, Brian looks like he might hit Eden. A sharp look delivered to the boy, brows knit in anger and his hand drawn back. He doesn't. But he does put one hand on the boy's shoulder while placing his other finger over his lips. Motioning to the house around them. He glances back to the window. "Might be a robot. Might be nothing. Just keep quiet, alright?" Brian whispers harshly. "Go fi—" This kid doesn't like orders. "Would you mind trying to find a window down here? And just peek out? Please?"

Brian is not for manning the perimeter just yet. With signs of habitation it's best to know that you're still in a frying pan and not yet in a fire. Wandering over to the coffee table, Brian peeks over to take in the photos and notes. If they look like nice people, maybe they can venture saying 'helloooo?'

Eden's mouth twists in some adolescent mix of smirk and scowl, but he does as ~asked~, moving on light feet for a window to peer out from, pushing gauzy if moth bitten curtains aside. Angie, meanwhile, happy to follow the lead of alpha females, comes to crouch by the shit they're checking out, a hand dipping into the box to pull out a few items — a comic book in plastic, looking old and well worn, and a cracked, amateur CD that she flips over to look at.

The photographs are a wide array, a couple of paperclips set aside where they used to be bound together. There's a group of four that seem to be a nice crowd, a strong-boned woman with brown hair, her shoulder pressed to the shoulder of a man of the same height, with dark hair and bright blue eyes. Another couple, a redheaded woman and a man with darker hair, darker eyes. There's a child that stands between the latter two, olive skin, dark hair and brown eyes.

A flip of the photographs show off their names written in pen, from left to right: Kasha, Lance, Juniper, Noa, Joe.

One just behind it snags Sable's eye — a woman, familiar to her, the older sister of Colette stands with a little girl held at her hip, blonde and more interested in the sky than whoever is taking the picture outside the New York town house. Nicole is dressed older than the chic thing Sable is familiar with, her hair cut and windblown, her smile small and squint tolerant.

"Mad Muse?" is muttered from Angie as she angles the CD to see through the smudgey cover.

Kneeling beside Sable, Koshka peers into the box too. "This is too creepy," she says, picking up a couple of the photographs. She stares down at the images with brows furrowing further, the portrayals vaguely familiar. Like when you see a person who could look like someone else. She turns the picture over, maybe looking for a date or explanation, but what is written gives her pause. The picture is turned over again and studied more carefully.

"Woah," Koshka breathes. Fingers brush over the photo, rubbing the dust off the surface and clearing the faces for better scrutiny. "This is…" Without finishing the sentence, she takes another look over the room, specifically toward corners or potential hiding places.

Comprehend, Sable is a person who believes in destiny. She will, given the opportunity, go into the subject at some length, making fine distinctions from commonplace, uninformed conceptions of fate which lack her deep, poetic understanding. More to the point, she is crazy. But one can be excused some certain delusions when in your honest to god life you've seen a devil wear your face and get gunned down before your eyes.

You can dig, then, why Sable doesn't ask politely before snatching the CD clean out of Angie's fingers. "Pardon," she mutters well after the fact, and distractedly too, as she angles the cover to discern its appearance. Her whole body feels run through with an electric current, intense and strange and heightening.

Brian gives precursory looks over the shit, not seeming to really care as nothing seems to familiar. The people seem nice looking enough. Until the picture is flipped over. The names catch his attention, but Brian is already walking away. A few steps are taken to join Eden when Brian stops dead. Things start to register as Brian squints and peers over his shoulder. He whirls on heel and pounds his way back towards the table. Snagging the picture, Brian flips it to read the names. It has him staring for quite a long time. The picture is flipped, then flipped again. Then flipped a few more times. Eyes running over the faces. The names are too… Who else would have those names.

The picture is then dropped in front of him, back to Koshka. His eyes narrowing at the picture. "I know her." Brian manages to get out, tongue feeling particularly heavy. One finger points vaguely at the woman on the far left. Kasha. The baby his wife to be and clone is currently taking care of. The woman in the picture. There's no way—

This city has taught him too stop saying 'no way'

Brian clasps his hands over his mouth as he drops to take a seat on the floor. Thinking is hard at the moment. His gaze flicks up to Sable. "You guys haven't even recorded a CD yet, have you?" He asks quietly, before glancing to Koshka. "What else is there?" His voice is a little more excited now, as if finding treasure. His four fingered hand points to the comic. "What's that." The picture is descreetly grabbed by his good hand and stuffed gently into his pocket. His eyes flick up. "We should.. We should search this place. Make sure no one's here…" But he's not about to move as he stares over to Koshka and Angie for MORE TREASURE.

Thud, thud, thud. Oblivious to the excitement that's going on, Eden happily searches the rest of the house. "Nothing outside," is echoed back. There's a squeak of hinges and pressure seals as a fridge is opened around the corner. "The electricity's not running. At least not right now." The sound of opening and shutting cupboard doors ensues.

Angie is a little more aware that things are weird. "Uh," she says, after a moment, warily watching the three and looking down at the items like maybe she should be all excited too, but she sees nothing that hints at such. "It's just some comic. 9th Wonders, issue #10. Some superhero called St. Joan. It looks old." She is so not interested in superheroes — being one herself and trapped into ghetto hell as a result, she could do without them as she casts the book onto the table and peers into the box. Under Brian's stare, she takes a couple of things out.

The CD in Sable's grip is not necessarily professional — it looks amateur produced, the cover clear to expose the CD marked as Mad Muse. It's a single, as far as she can tell, with a song entitled something quite simple: A Song For Magnes.

The photographs upon the table have some aged quality to them. One in particular snags the eye — a familiar redheaded woman, Delilah's easy grin as photogenic as one could wish for, and on her knee sits a toddler of two or three years of age, his hair the same colour of ginger as his mum's, a matching smile. It's Christmas, in the photograph, tinsel in her earrings and the edge of a Christmas tree framing to the left of them.

Another one shows a markedly older Benjamin Ryans and Jensen Raith, speaking amicably and bearing rifles, their clothes obscured by heavy winter coats, and the latter holding a cigar between his fingers. Three youths stand with them, a dark haired teenage girl with her back to the camera, and a redhead male in a ponytail standing profile on beside another male with a long, sharp nose, darker in skin tone and hair, although none of them are armed like the adults they stand with. The snap is candid, outdoors, and a sliver of Bannerman's Castle hedges into view.

Beneath it, a picture of a man and a woman in dress uniform, her skin a healthy tan and her hair a glossy and pulled into a formal ponytail, bone structure strong. She is familiar to no one. The man she stands beside has distinct features — an intelligently cool blue eyed stare, ginger hair cropped into a crew cut, and a thin lipped smile. Calvin Rosen looks tolerant of the pomp that comes with a dress uniform, standing with her on a balcony that shows a sliver of New York City at night, some event.

"And some picture, a magazine clip— hey, that's the Advocate douchebag," Angie is saying as she picks things out of the box. "Man, he's gone downhill." She flips the slippery piece of paper overwards, and makes a face at the advertisement on the other side — the image she was looking at before faces out, Bradley Russo with his hairline receded and a grown in of beard along his handsome jaw, his hand clasped on a boy of maybe ten years of age.

"Holy God," Sable states, staring at the CD. Nothing professional, nothing gleaming. No confirmation of platinum status, no certain, destined fame. Instead a Song For Magnes, and she already knows what precipitated its writing: his request. That current turns to ice water, and Sable's fingertips feel numb where they touch the jewel case.

It's Delilah's cheeky face that manages to pull her out of her state of tharn. She blinks free of the trance, peers at the smiling redhead and the child on her knee. Snatching this photo up in turn, she looks between Nicole and Delilah, confirming that indeed these are the women she knows. The CD and the picture of the young mother disappear into Sable's pants pockets; only once she's done this does she turn to Brian.

"Gotta grab all this," Sable states, words heavy with implication, "y'all know we got friends who really oughta know 'bout this." Wink wink. The Ferry.

The pictures are glanced at. Not fully registering as he leafs through them, he looks down at Koshka pulling down the comic books. He purses his lips for a moment. "We shouldn't stay here. Eden, can you help me find a garbage bag or something or a sheet, something we can hold stuff in?" Brian watches the pictures for a moment. Peering at the one with Delilah. Walter isn't that old yet. Brian leans back some on his seat, staring at the pictures.

He glances briefly at Koshka. "What is in it?" He asks distractedly, thoughts still dragging to the picture in his pocket. Hands push up against the ground, rising to his feet. Though he pauses at Sable's implication. "We'll talk about it later." He murmurs. "Right now, let's find something to carry all this shit, and get the fuck back to our houses. If we stay here too long." His eyes droop down to his anklet.

There's a clatter from the kitchen, and after a moment, Eden returns with a couple of plastic shopping bags, empty and ready for filling, his features showing puzzlement. "You guys find money or something?" he asks, gaining a shrug from Angie when she gets to her feet, but helpfully puts some items into the bag, going with it — a drawing, something penned by at least three people, a child's attempts at a tree house and adult corrections to it in bold, black marks, dimensions, planning notations. The third addition being cosmetic details, birds in the branches, a ladder climbing up the trunk.

She reaches out for a few photographs left unturned. Jaiden Mortlock has a boy on his shoulders, a child who winds his hands in the man's hair, his own head obscured in overlarge baseball cap. Catching Brian's eye before it disappears is an image of the woman known primarily as Gillian Childs, her dark hair bound back from her face which looks like it has a little more plumpness to it than Brian recalls, lines at her eyes and her arm linked with a teenage boy who has an awkward smile and big, brown eyes.

A child stands in one alone, posing on a motorcycle that is likely not his, his hair blonde and eyes blue, and awarding the camera with a big, cheesy smile as he pretends to rev the engine. Two more remain — Elisabeth Harrison at a kitchen counter with flour coating up to her elbows as her hands bury in baking dough, enduring a candid photograph while the arms of a small child, maybe a boy, wrap around her legs and peek shyly towards the camera. A piece of paper beneath that does not bear anything very immediately obvious — but for those that know or have done them before, it's a crayon rubbing of a gravestone face, done in red, and coated over with some sort of chemical to preserve it, making the paper waxy.

April 12, 2012 - January 18, 2013

The last item to be grabbed are two sheets of music, handwritten, the pages old and a little smudged, although someone has gone over the notes and filled it in with clarity. Music for the violin, accompanied by the piano. Entitled, in careful print, Fawns.

As Koshka turns the pages of the comic — published not a few years ago, that she can tell, but wrecked like its been through decades — does not provide much illumination besides the adventures of the mysterious, hooded St. Joan. But sheaths of notepad paper come sliding out, pen written and maybe even recent — but in no language Koshka knows. Not even in a language she recognises.

"Just a comic," Koshka answers absently, her eyes going to the fallen sheets of paper. The comic is placed aside as she picks up those fallen sheets to look over them. The pages are turned over, first right side up then flipped to be upside down, but there's no found understanding of the writing. "Either it's an alien language or a crypto-quote," she decides, replacing the papers into the comic book.

Returning the comic to the sleeve, Koshka glances up to watch the other things being bagged. She holds onto the comic rather than add it into the mix, story looked interesting enough even if it didn't seem to have any clues. Rocking back on her heels, she stands and turns a full circle slowly, considering the room once again. "You think people're hiding here, too?"

"Hidin'?" Sable echoes - she goes for the sheet music, folding it carefully into quarters before sliding it into her pocket as well. Everything else she's willing to risk communally, but music is her bag. She turns to Koshka. "People here got shit from yet t' come. They ain't hidin'. They're fuckin' visitin'." Just in case Angie and Eden had any doubts that this chick is cracked.

"Throw everythin' in th' box," Sable says, pointing at the receptacle in question, "pile it up 'n' we'll boogie th' hell outta here. Everyone dig?" They'd better. Sable can feel the point of that cosmic pendulum coming down for another pass over her poor mortal head.

"Could be a code. Keep it." Brian murmrs softly. Hesitating on the picture of Jaiden for a moment before pausing at the name BETH RYANS. Born in 2012. Brian frowns down at the words before giving a grateful nod to Eden. "Alright, pack all this shit up." Brian murmurs almost at the same moment as Sable. Glancing to Koshka. He looks around.

"Someone might be hiding here. But we're not going to wait to find out. They ain't here now." Winters murmurs softly as he starts to rake everything into their receptacle quickly. "Anyone check that window?"

"Yeah," Eden says, as Angie comes to stand beside him. The pair watch Sable and Brian pack up everything to go with varying amounts of intrigue, Eden casting a quizzical look to Koshka about maybe she should fill him in later. "Nothing outside, coast is clear, yadda yadda. I'm guessing this excurision is over for you people, or— "

Cree. Creeeeeak.

That would be the sound of a door opening, or being pushed open, and then the surprisingly gentle but metallic sound of footsteps — of something with four feet to make 'em — click out in dull thuds from the foyer, and by the time they're looking, it's too late. Brian has seen it before, but it may be new to others — standing at maybe three to four feet in height, the silver head has a feline quality to it, shaped like a skull, red glowing eyes lit in dark sockets. A needle protrudes out from silver fangs, and a single, glistening droplet of something drops upon the ground inaudibly, not unlike drool in the way there is a certain organic quality to the machine that radiates heat where it stands in the doorway.

Steam ejects from its side in that same hssssss they heard from before, just as a klaxon siren outside wails its earsplitting alarms.

To be continued.

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