Going To Ground


darla_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Going To Ground
Synopsis Joseph goes in search of greener pastures. If the guiding light failed the first time, surely the opposite will do him better.
Date October 3, 2009

Somewhere near the Foxhole

The subway tunnels under Midtown aren't places for the faint of heart. First there's the darkness — even where the wiring is intact, power is lacking. Rubble turns gloom treacherous — from small globs of concrete to stub toes on and trip over to collapsed portions of tunnel difficult at best to navigate. And then there's the noises. Some of them are figments of the overactive imagination. Some… aren't, and one might not find out which are which until it's too late.

Darla's used to these things. She spends more time underground than above it, it seems, and the corridors which lead to the Foxhole are her territory. They're also wired to a fare-thee-well, battery-powered infrared sensors that ping on anything larger than a rat (although some of the rats are admittedly big) and wirelessly relay that finding back to the Foxhole. Today is an unusual day — someone's approaching. She could wait until he gets where the cameras are set… but the downside of managing the Foxhole is stretches of boring monotony. It's only one person. So Darla came out here to meet him herself.

The aerokinetic is currently perched on the narrow raised walkway beside the tracks, feet swinging idly back and forth. An orange glowstick sits not far away, where an idle toss left it; a squarish bit of whiter light marks the face of a mobile device held in her hands, but even with both sources of illumination the dark-skinned woman is not much more than a shadow herself.

Time isn't really a big deal down here, that much Joseph can tell. Time according to watches, the steady pace of digital numbers ticking us all towards eternity matter, sure, but the natural rise and fall of the sun? If not for the watch around his wrist, he couldn't say what time of day it is. He isn't carrying much, nor is he walking his dog on the pretence of this being a downward, casual stroll - a bulky jacket is drawn over a shirt tucked into aged jeans, his boots slip-sliding and scuffing on the rubble-scattered ground of the tunnels. He's only fallen once, and his hand stings from it, but Joseph has suffered worse due to his own clumsiness. He continues on.

Following the tracks is easy enough, and Joseph is fortunate to hit a long stretch of flat, mostly cleared ground by the time he notices he's eerily not alone. Hand curled into a fist and kept protected against his belly, other arm folded over it more out of a need for warmth than anything else, his gritted foot steps slow down at the twin sources of hazy illumination.

A shadow is made out, if nothing more. But a shadow is certainly enough to have Joseph halting a reverent distance away, and his voice echoes mild off the dark walls with; "Hello?"

"Hello," calls the shadow.

A woman's voice, amiable in an impersonal way; recognizable in that one word, because there's only one person permanently associated with the Foxhole and he was bound to encounter her at some point: Darla Hurst.

Tucking the mobile into a pocket, its light quenched, she hops down to the tracks, bringing the glowstick with her. Caged in hand, it illumines a little more of the woman; highlights in curly black hair, a soft orange wash over garments whose color can't be accurately determined yet. Darla walks closer, in no hurry to cross the distance; her other hand empty, the only source of menace to her approach — aside from being a waiting presence — a softly unnatural current of gathering air. She hasn't recognized Joseph yet.

"Strange place to be wandering around in. You lost?"

"I thought I might be," is admitted into the darkness and the strange current of air. The latter of which Joseph doesn't notice especially, unaccustomed to the way the environment really works down here. Maybe the air does gather strangely rather than stay stagnant or caught in downward flows. He squints a little, picking out Darla's details a little more to confirm that the familiar voice matches a familiar face, if only from passing knowledge. "Don't think I am now, though."

Moving forward to meet her half way, gaze going down to make sure he doesn't trip over broken concrete and jutting metal. His hands move, if only to show the fact they're empty, and there's not particularly expectancy that she'll recognise his name and face when he continues with; "My name's Joseph Sumter. I've come down here before— a coupla times."

"That so?" Darla tilts her head; she does recognize the face, at least, now that he's close enough to make out a measure of his features. Since his hands are empty, the woman easily tosses the glowstick his way, pulling a new one from a holder on her belt. The crack of it bending in her hands is as sharp as a gunshot in the otherwise quiescent tunnel. A wave of its gleaming length directs the pastor to continue walking with her. "And what brings you back today — unannounced?" Her smile is a flicker of white in the gloom. "Not that I'm not thankful for the interruption, mind you."

Joseph is quick enough to catch, a muttered 'thanks' given as it casts its illumination up his front with its glow worm light. "I wouldn't know where to call ahead even if I'd thought to," he admits, his other hand tucking into a pocket as if inexpertly holds the glowstick out to guide his steps, watching the trail of its orange chemical haze light up the contours of the unforgiving terrain. Much easier this way.

"I had a place for the Ferry since a week ago," he explains. "A church. It got attacked by Humanis First, burned to a husk. I guess I figured I might as well see where else I could— " His shoulders hike up a little beneath his jacket, shooting a glance towards her before shifting that gaze back downwards. "Help, I guess. Somewhere less obvious."

"You call Wireless, of course," Darla replies, a hint of surprise in her tone. She looks sidelong at the pastor, expression becoming thoughtful. "Well." Her glowstick swings freely back and forth with her strides. "You must really want to hide if you're coming down here." It isn't a question. She's quiet for a few more steps, a musing silence; arches one dark brow as she regards Joseph afterwards. "Have to admit the Foxhole doesn't take much looking after." The tone of her statement is a leading one; Darla is going somewhere with this.

Her musing silence is matched with Joseph's own. For all intents and purposes, this is hiding, and so he doesn't bother with a protest even if he might like to. Just exchanges a twist of a rueful smile with her before focusing his sights back towards his feet. As for Wireless— he nods once at the reminder of the ever-present technopathic connection.

"I can't imagine it does," Joseph admits right back, a nervous chuckle escaping, though something in her tone doesn't automatically have him excusing himself with apology, or arguing the worth of a second set of hands. His silence is attentive as the echo of their footsteps follows them down the tracks.

Another cheerful smile at the compliment implied in his words — or the one that Darla chooses to hear. The difference is immaterial here and now. "You said you'd been down here before," Darla continues, navigating her way around the rusting fragments of a partially cleared subway car. A wrecked one. "Watch your step there," she remarks, turning back to offer Joseph a hand past the rough spot. "You ever see Grand Central? What it is these days, anyway — I don't mean before."

Switching glowstick from good hand to grazed hand, he places the former in Darla's and accepts the help up, cautious in his navigation of chewed cement and twisted metal. "Grand Central?" he asks, the unfamiliarity in his tone more than enough to answer her question. "Heck, I didn't see it before either. I've only been in New York since March or somethin' like that." Releasing her hand once he's steady on his feet, there's a sort of regret in his voice, that the only New York City he knows is this bombed out shell of what it used to be.

Darla is slow to lower her hand, but only because it's an afterthought; her mind is elsewhere. The smile that takes shape on her face indicates that the answer isn't a wrong one; but then, there wasn't really space for wrong, anyway. "Well, I can tell you that they're always looking for more hands. So if you want to hang out down here, that's probably the place to be." Orange waves Joseph forward along a clearer stretch of walkway. "I'll take you down and make the introductions, if you like."

Joseph glances in the direction she waves, and sees only the oppressively black tunnel he's been walking since he crawled his way underground. They all kind of resemble each other and this one seems deeper still. It's no time to be afraid of the dark, or closed space, or whatever lurks in shadows. Instead, he gives an uncertain smile in the Halloween exchange of the golden-orange glow sticks and the deeper black shadows. "Lead the way."

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