Explore The Underground? Talk To Squeaks


cassandra_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Explore the Underground? Talk to Squeaks
Synopsis Maps of the sewers aren't cutting it. Squeaks is tapped as a guide.
Date March 28, 2018


The outside of the library is a quiet space. Peaceful. It's a good place for reading. Which is what Squeaks is doing while other people pass by. She was inside the building earlier, now she's outside. She's sitting on an old crate, cross-legged and back against a wall. She has a book balanced on her lap and her chin rests in her hands. A backpack that has seen better years is resting on the ground beside the crate. Jude is nowhere to be seen.

The library, being one of the last repositories of data from the old city, had something that Cassandra needed and, after spending a little time in the stacks with some old maps and blueprints of the New York City sewer system. She's already been into the sewers three times over the past few weeks and frankly, it's getting really tiring. After Eve's prophecy? It's really something she doesn't want to do again. At least, not without a lot of information which is why she's here.

Her notes tucked away, Cassandra heads out of the front of the Library into the cool afternoon air. It's around 44f, but with the sun and lack of wind, a light jacket is really all that's needed to stay warm. She pauses at the entrance, about to put on a pair of well-used sunglasses when she catches sight of a fairly familiar red-headed form. She takes a moment and then slowly, as to not cause Squeaks to get freaked out and run off like she did the other day, she approaches. "hey there…." She waves. "Remember me? Cassandra, the SESA agent?"

"I remember." Squeaks doesn't look up from her book until she's finished the page. It doesn't take long. She tucks a scrap of paper - looks to be torn off a cereal box - to mark her place and folds the covers together. Then, she looks up at Cassandra. For all her wariness at following the woman and going into a stranger's home, she seems at ease now. But then, she's in her element, there are plenty of places to scurry off to if she decides she needs to. "Hi."

Cassandra remains a good five feet away from Squeaks, not blocking any exits or even making a move to draw any closer. She does shuffle over to sit on the bench nearby, so she's not having to stand, getting more to Squeaks' level as she talks. She sets her bag down next to her and crosses one foot over the other, looking to the younger woman for a second. "I have a couple of questions about underground and thought…well..you might know a thing or two or, at least, could point me to someone who did."

The kid watches Cassandra's movements, but she doesn't appear as concerned today as she had during their first encounter. Her hands fold over the cover of her book. "I live underneath. For lots of years." It's not really saying she knows a lot of what's below ground, but it is, in her own way. "What kinds of things?"

Cassandra tries to see what the kid, who still hasn't given her name, is reading, before she speaks. "Well…you know about the food thefts, right? Red Cross and Safe zone food stocks getting raided? We've…okay, I've got a theory…"

The book looks to be an old one, and probably far more advanced than anything one would expect of a street-dwelling youth. The cover is old and worn, fraying at the corners, featuring the image of a miserly old man in a top hat and long overcoat in the winter. "Right. Hard to get food now, soup kitchens run out and not lots of people sharing or trading."

"Yes, well." Cassandra says softly, nodding. "Exactly. With the Red Cross food stocks and the Safe Zone food stocks both missing, it's kind of been assigned to me to figure out what might have happened. Now…" She turns a little to look at Squeaks. "I know people live down below the streets. Old subway tunnels and the like, but the question I had…is there anywhere people just don't go normally? What kind of dangers are down there that keep most people out of the depths? And can they be marked on a map?"

"New tunnels," Squeaks interjects. Instead of answering the questions directly. She picks up the backpack beside her and fits the book into it. "Not the old ones. "Not old ones. No one lives in the old ones. Those who don't go above," she pauses to indicate the street and surrounding buildings, "stayed underneath. But never go below. Not safe."

The idea of new tunnels seems to be a little amazing to Cassandra. I mean, it would make sense that someone would be digging down there to get from A to B, and without the fear of electrical, flowing water, or sewer, they could go anywhere. She reaches into her bag and pulls out her notebook, taking notes. "Why don't people live in the old tunnels? What makes them unsafe? And how many new tunnels are there?"

"Miles." The girl answers the last question first. There's no better way to elaborate. "Sewers and subways everywhere. I've seen from the airport all the way to the ocean and the ocean to the river. Might go on farther. "Old tunnels are from before. You go down, you don't come back."

It's like Squeaks is talking about an old horror movie. A city perched on top of countless miles of uncharted tunnels, and going below is certain to end poorly for anyone who does. "So the maps in there - the old tunnels - are basically places to not go, while the new tunnels, not on any maps, are where people…and you…live, beneath the streets?"

"Some people live underneath. Most left." The explanation seems simple enough. And that you don't go to the older tunnels doesn't sound all that crazy to Squeaks. She hasn't gone herself. "Most took money and got houses to live above. Some didn't. I didn't. I know some maps, I know some show where I live in the underneath. Trains used to go there, but not now. Maybe your maps show new sewers and not old ones?"

Of course, how could she have been so blind? "The old maps…the new maps…they're all together, combined with the subway system." She imagines it's like someone took bowls of long noodles - three sizes - and mixed them all together before dumping them on a city. This just got a lot more complicated. "if I show you some maps, could you draw where things are? Connections and things like that?"

"I can try." Squeaks settles her backpack on her lap, face scrunching up slightly. "Are you going down there? You should have a guide, someone who knows which way and where it's safe. You get lost if you forget where you're at. Or you disappear forever."

"Not…not alone, no. not by myself. I had a bit of a talk with someone who gave me some advice…to be careful in the sewers." Cassandra looks to the younger girl. "We could use a guide, yes, before we go deeper. At least to get an idea of the layout belowground. Where things connect. Where the sewer becomes part of the subway, for instance. But more importantly…where not to go, and to not get lost." She pauses for a moment, thoughtful. "is this something you could mabye do?"

"Maybe." The word is spoken without any thought. But it's clear that Squeaks is thinking about it. She drops her gaze from Cassandra and fidgets with a ratted seam on her backpack. She knows the underneath pretty well, she thinks. She must, because she hasn't gotten lost or worse. "I get food out of it," she decides, transitioning from considering to bartering. "And any things that people lost. And I guide you through the underneath."

"I think we can arrange that." Cassandra says with a nod. "Food, I mean. As far as things people lost…you said there were miles down there. There's probably tons of stuff down there that people lost."

"I find it, I keep it." Squeaks isn't budging on that part of the conditions to her guiding any forays into the underneath. She knows pickings are slim at best when it comes to scavenging in the tunnels; she's not the only homeless person to live below ground. She unfolds her legs and stands, backpack lowering to hang at her side. "And food," she tacks on, extending her hand to shake and seal the deal with Cassandra.

"If it's necessary for the investigation, like evidence, SESA keeps it. Otherwise it's yours. And food." Cassandra offers a hand to shake. This may be going a little beyond her role as an investigator, but she can swing food and an expedition to the sewers. Again. But after that vision, does she really want to go?

Squeaks looks like she might argue her point, but she ends up clasping hands with Cassandra instead. If the investigation is helped, food won't be as difficult to get. So she can concede that point. For now. "Deal."

"What's your name?" Cassandra asks, pen at the ready once the clasping of hands has been released. "And where can I find you when we're ready to start?"

"Squeaks." The girl takes a step back after shaking hands with Cassandra. "Here." The location is decided after some thought, her eyes going to the library facade. "When the library opens. You can find me here."

The girl gets a 'look' at that, but the name is dutifully written down in the notepad before it's closed and tucked away. "Thank you, Squeaks. I'll be looking for you whenever something starts happening." What's not said is that, with red tape, it may take a little while. Still. "As far as food, are you okay now?"

When Squeaks catches on that she's being looked at, her chin lifts just a little. She doesn't say anything about it, though. Her name is her name, even if it is unusual. The question gets its own look. Incredulous. And then grins as though she'd heard a funny joke. "I have some for today. I have to find some for tomorrow."

Cassandra rummages in her bag for a moment. "here." she says, offering a few bills. "Should be enough to get something in the market with the shortages." She makes sure to note that so she can get reimbursed later, but for now, it's all about keeping Squeaks on their side. "Thanks for helping, Squeaks. We really, really appreciate it."

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