If You're Gonna Hunt Rats


joe_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title If You're Gonna Hunt Rats…
Synopsis Joe and Squeaks visit the Red Hook Marketplace in search of supplies for a trip to find the source of the rats.
Date June 13, 2018

Red Hook Market

Rumor had it that there was a trip to the market being planned.

Maybe it wasn’t so much of a rumor. It hadn’t been that long ago that the collection of teenagers had laid out plans to go ratting again, and for that adventure they were going to need supplies. But someone had heard that Joe would be going, and so invited herself along.

Squeaks wasn’t even subtle about it. She just met Joe at the door when he was preparing to leave, and tagged along after him to the market.

“What are you looking for again?” The question comes not too long after they’ve entered the open-air market place. It’s got all the normal sounds of commerce being done, the occasional bartering, exchange of money for goods, the conversation of friends and contacts and families. Like she always does, Squeaks is taking it all in with open caution and curiosity. “Do you think we can find some candy while we’re here?”

Joe likes having company, so he's more than happy to have a Squeaks come along. Almost reminds him a little bit of their time together Eimi hunting. So there was no question or even confusion when Squeaks met him at the door. "Squeakers." A nod from the Joe before they're off. "I am looking for supplies. Not one hundred percent sure what, just… stuff. We've got canned food, so flares maybe, batteries for flashlights, walkie talkies if we can find them, batteries for those. Head lamps maybe? Like what miners wear. Just anything that might prove useful down there. What I can't get here I'll try and see if I can get from the lady Lance and I do some work for."

Joe steps are quick and steady, making his way down out of the apartment and onto the street, heading for the market at a quick pace. "Anything you can think of that we might need down there that the rest of us aren't thinking of? You've spent a lot more time down there after all."
Joe’s attention wanders as they walk, looking at people and stuff. He pauses at one point to poke his finger into a bullet hole in a brick. “This city has a lot of scars these days. Find little things like this everywhere. Bullet holes, pockmarks and even old blood stains that no one bothered to clean up. In places where the rain doesn’t get to.” He sighs softly before moving on, resuming his walk to the market.

“They’re everywhere,” Squeaks says of the bullet hole. She, like most kids whose childhood was spent in the shadow of the War, is no stranger to the stains and damage left behind from all the fighting. She’s even seen it Underneath. As for things they’d need…

“Think survival,” the younger teen suggests, before adding to those things Joe has already said. “Bandaids, rope, Twinkies.” You never know how long you might be gone. “We should probably all have backpacks, we didn’t all have them last time and we didn’t hav e as much supplies.” Really all they had were flashlights and Brynn had her drawing stuff. Squeaks at least wasn’t sure what to expect, but had not thought they’d be swarmed by rats. Or flushed.

"Oh. Bandages. Yeah I tend to forget that kinda stuff… I shouldn't. Brian drilled into my fat head for years. But I still forget medical stuff." He taps his arm to indicate his skin in all it's bulletproof glory. "Rope I've got. Twinkies I don't. But we've got food." Joe's smirk is more than a little amused at the suggestion of Twinkies though. "You guys didn't all have backpacks? Well I've got two. My big one I got when I was on the supply run for Keira, and then my old one. So that's two. I know Brynn has a packe. I assume Lance does. But we'll make sure we all have packs before we set off."

"So I already have rope, knives, a compass, rations plus food we'll be taking with us. I have a hatchet, a flashlight and a couple of spare batteries but I want more. Also have a water filter. It can't filter a ton of water at a time, but it's something. We should definitely be bringing as much water with us as we can. But yeah, medical supplies is a good callout Squeakers. And I doubt we'll find Twinkies but we can sure look." Joe pauses at the entrance to the market letting his eyes wander the stalls and shops a few moments before he starts to head in the direction of one. "Anything else you can think of?"

“Brynn had her bag.” But really, the plan didn’t include being in the Underneath for a long time. And they definitely didn’t expect to run into trouble. After all, the rats and monsters that eat people and leave their bones weren’t real before that trip. Squeaks nods to those things Joe lists again, agreeing to all of it. “I have a backpack, too.” So everyone should be covered there.

As for anything else, she shrugs. “Lots of things, but too much makes it hard to get through small places.” Some of those tunnels were pretty narrow, though Squeaks didn’t mind much. A backpack crammed full of stuff could hang up on stuff. “Traps?” But for the same reason as a full backpack, she offers the idea hesitantly, if with good reasoning. “If we could bring back a rat alive, maybe we could learn about it.”

"Well that's good. Then that means we only need to pick up one bag just to be safe. I'm pretty sure Lance has one, but we'll wanna make sure. Is your backpack still sound and solid? Or should we get you a new… er one?" Cuz let’s face it, nothing in New York is brand new right now. It's all used and resold and reused again. "Bring back an electro rat alive. I wonder how we could do that? Build some kinda electric cage? Like the Ghostbusters trap? Maybe. That's way beyond me though. Caspian might be able to do it but…" Joe's head wobbles from side to side, his shoulders lifting in a half hearted shrug.

Joe actually has his old backpack on him at the moment. His new good one isn't something you really wanna bring to the market. Makes you a target for pickpockets and the like. So Joe brought his more beaten up and worn in backpack. Which he unshoulders as he steps up to a stall where a man is selling odds and ends, including some batteries that fit his flashlight. There's a few moments of haggling before Joe pulls out some money, all small denomination of bills and counts it out before handing it over. The batteries are dropped into the backpack and then he's looking for another stall. "Traps would be awesome though, if we could figure out how to carry them without them being in the way."

“Lance and I know how to use traps too. Used to have to hunt for a good portion of our food up in Canada where we were staying. Brian taught us to hunt, though in all fairness he had to learn to hunt too. But we all learned, well most of us. We learned to hunt and track and lay traps for game. We wouldn’t need a big trap for a rat. Just no clue how to contain an electric rat.”

“It works,” is Squeaks’ answer of her backpack. It’s seen better days, it’s worn and has its tears and its own personality, but today it still works for her. She didn’t bring it, though, choosing to leave it behind on this trip. She wasn’t planning on buying anything anyway. She watches while Joe haggles over the batteries, hands in her pockets and thinking about what else they might need. And traps.

Trapping a rat seems important to her, for some reason.

“There’s all kinds of traps. Some we could maybe make.” Squeaks turns to follow the older teen from the first booth. “What about that kind where things go in but can’t come out or they’d get stabbed?” She pulls her hands free of her pockets to show what she means, one hand going in a space created by the other, which has fingers that poke at the first to keep it from escaping. “Like that?”

Joe haggles over a few other things as well, mostly stuff for the apartment, but he does manage to find a stand that's got some disinfectant and bandages and the like. He ends up trading for those with stuff he's got rather than buying, then he's moving on through the market. "We might want more rope than I've got, but I'm not sure if we'll find any rope here. Maybe though."

Then Squeaks is back to talking traps and Joe looks over to his side at her with an amused smile on his face. "You're all sorts of about this trap business aren't you? The problem with a conventional trap is that if it turns electric it's just going to get away. Well, let’s clarify. You guys send they went electric. By that I've assumed you meant they transformed into electricity and zipped away. Or do you mean they were putting off electricity? Cuz if that's what they were doing we can build a trap for that easy. But if they actually turn into electricity we'll need something more."

He sticks his hand into his pocket and comes out with a protein bar, which he opens up and rips in half, handing half over to Squeaks and chewing on a bite of the other half. "Slice rats. Crazy world we live in. How come you're so set on capturing one of the rats though? Any specific reason?"

“What if the rats aren’t slice?” It’s a question she’s been sitting on for a while, though now’s the first time Squeaks has brought it up. “What if they’re just rats? How could we know unless we try to catch one. If it goes electric, then maybe we know it is slice. If it doesn’t, then maybe we know that it’s not slice.” She pauses in her own brand of logic to take the protein bar and break off a bite. “And maybe,” she goes on after a minute, “even if we can’t learn if the rats are slice or not, we can find out if they’re really real rats. Or put a tracker on it and see where it goes.” Because these kids can totally get trackers for rats, right?

She takes another bite and looks up at Joe to weigh his expression to her reasoning. “I don’t know about being slice. Don’t know how it works, how you get it or anything. Just thought, if we could get a rat maybe we could start figuring out what’s going on.”

Joe puffs out a cheek in thought at the questions that Squeaks poses. "Well, you didn't answer me on whether it turned into electricity or just put off electricity. It matters on trying to capture it. But if it's not a slice rat then how does it have electric powers? Unless it's a machine. There were… oh god…" Joe turns slowly to look at Squeaks, horror dawning on his face.

"Holy shit… holy shit… there were robots. Before and during the war. Institute robots. They could eat people… bio conversion or some such crap. What if the rats are robots? Or like… some robot rat hybrid? Or… cuz they're eating people and… maybe they're doing that conversion thingy where they convert people into fuel and energy? Though that wouldn't explain them having fur unless someone puts fake fur on them. Which… I dunno. Maybe… actually that theory makes less sense the more I think about it."

Joe lifts a hand up, fingers scritching lightly at his chin as he ponders the questions posed. "I think we can rig up something to be a tracker. Maybe. I know how, just not sure we can get the parts needed. Really just need a GPS module and a power source to keep it running. And then a way to plant it on something without it noticing." Trackers are definitely a possibility, just difficult.

"Uhh it just kinda is. I've had my powers since I was really little. As far back as I can remember. Some people get their powers super young, others get them later. I dunno if it's like… stressful situations that set them off? Or they just come on naturally? I guess it's different for everyone. I don't remember much of my life before Brian found me. Just snippets really. Don't even really remember my parents faces. So I don't know how far back my powers go."

“I don’t know what they did,” Squeaks points out. “I saw them go electric then go into the walls. I don’t know what that is or how it happened. The air felt like when there’s a thunderstorm, and the rats looked like when a lightbulb burns out, and they went into the electrical wires in the walls.” That’s how she remembers it happening, anyway. And her limited experience doesn’t know what to make of it.

But a thought comes to her suddenly, after explaining what she saw, and she frowns. “There’s lots… hundreds of rats we saw that all did that. None were left. How could they all be slice and all do the same thing?” Squeaks tilts her head and looks up at Joe. “People all have different powers when they’re slice. Shouldn’t rats also?”

“What if it isn’t little rats,” Squeaks wonders out loud, and clearly off on another thought. She’s been wondering about this probably for a while it seems, probably since the food first got taken, when it was a really big problem for her personally. “What if it’s bigger rats, or something else completely, that killed the people? Maybe it’s William or William working for the bigger rat-monster-thing.”

“Ahh. So they actually turned into electricity. Electric mimicry. Interesting. I've heard of Electrokinetics like Lady Zeus, but never electric mimicry." Joe taps his chin idly as he strolls along, clearly thinking quite a bit about that. "We would need something that could trap electricity then, something it can't get out of. But also something where it can still breathe since we want it alive not dead. I'm… not sure how we would do that to be honest."

"Well, tailored genetics could explain it. But that would be a lot of research and development just to make a real life pikachu. Though there are cooky scientists that might just do that. But I don't see funding being wasted on that project. So they have to serve a purpose of some kind. If they're naturally occuring sure they'd have different powers. Or maybe rats aren't genetically diverse enough for different powers? Not sure. Big question."

"I mean it could be William I guess? Though I'm not sure where that makes sense. But I've been saying I think it's something bigger. Driven by a larger consciousness. Maybe an evolved that can turn into a rat swarm or something, like animal mimicry, though that wouldn't explain them having lightning powers. An animal telepath that's controlling them all or… no. No matter what I come back to it's gotta be someone or something with multiple powers. Which is rare. I only knew of a couple. Sylar and Peter. I don't think I heard about anyone else with multiple powers. The Brians sometimes had different powers. Like Brian was a replicator, but then he died. But one of his replicants showed up. And he has electrokinesis like Lady Zeus. So even within one person the powers can be different. It's weird. I dunno Squeakers. THis question is way beyond me. I think I need to find a science cook and ask them."

“Maybe.” That’s Squeaks’ answer to the rats being electricity mimics. She hasn’t crossed that possibility off her expansive list of answers, but she’s not convinced that’s what they were either. She’s not sure what they were, and she’s said that, and there’s so many possibilities. Which is why she’s open to ideas but not settling on just any one.

When Joe suggests telepathy, she latches onto another of her millions of questions. She really has been doing a lot of thinking about what they ran into in the sewers. “What if we only thought we were seeing rats do things? Like mind melding?” Squeaks shrugs at the idea, because the rats really did seem real. “What if there weren’t actually rats there?” What if’s are a long and winding rabbit hole to go down.

So much so that her next one causes her to stop walking. Squeaks holds up a finger, but she’s looking at her feet. “What if …what if it is William. Did you say he’s a mind meld projection?”

"William was a… uhhh thing. Mind thingy. Psychic projection that was it. But how would William eat people though? Psychic projection can't eat people yah know? At least I've never heard of it. Maybe he's trying to scare people away with it? I don't know. I also don't want to think that it's William hurting people. But sometimes people that are hurt hurt other people back. So I… I don't want to believe it's him. But I also won't discount that it could be him. But I really really hope it's not."

Joe puffs out his cheeks, then draws in a deep breath and lets it out in a long sigh. "I really don't want it to be him. But if he can project anything like Fearmonger did then it could be him. And Fearmonger could kill people. We saw people dead because of him. If William could do that too then… maybe it is him." Joe's features have fallen slowly at that possibility. He stops at the next stall and doesn't even haggle, just buys the items there outright, including a big fold out map of New York that's laminated and still in good condition. "I figured we could mark the sewers out on this. Then we know where under New York we are."

“I’m gonna go see Keira tomorrow. She’s the lady Lance and I do some work for. See if I can get the firemen suits and see if she has a flamethrower. She sent a message in today and asked me to come out and see her. Hopefully I can get some of the things we need from her.”

“Could be something else then,” Squeaks says as she jogs a couple of steps to catch up to Joe. “I’m not saying it is him, just thinking out loud.” She does kind of understand wanting to get back at people that caused hurt, but she only shrugs to that. “I don’t know what any of it is.” She reaches a hand out to tap his arm in her usual way, to make sure he’s okay.

She watches the exchange at the next booth. Squeaks presses her arms against the edge of the stall and leans forward to look at the things being offered while Joe makes his purchases. “That’s perfect,” she says as he takes the map. “Waterproof, too.” She looks up at him as he begins explaining the supplies he’s looking to get from his job too. The change in topic is even welcomed. “Do you think she will have things like that? That we can use?”

"It could be. But I don't want to discount what you're thinking just because I don't like it. That would be dumb, and I'm not dumb. I might do dumb things sometimes, but I'm not stupid. And I would be if I didn't honestly consider your angle there. You are absolutely right. It could be William. I hope it's not, but it could be. And I need to be ready for that possibility." He leans over and gives Squeaks a quick hug after she taps his arm. He knows she's still weird about hugs, but she deserves one. "I'm okay."

Joe hands the map over to Squeaks once he's checked it out and purchased it. "This is yours. We can work on getting the sewers marked out on it when we get back to the apartment. We've got permanent markers that you can use. It'll be easier than going back and forth between all the pages you've got. And yeah waterproof. So it doesn't get ruined if we get dunked." He considers the question and shrugs his shoulders.

"I honestly don't know. She's got her fingers in a lot of pies is my understanding. If anyone has access to some of that stuff it'd be her. If she doesn't we'll think of something else. I hope." His shoulders lift in a slight shrug. "Okay… got batteries, bandages, a map. Hmmmm…" He starts asking around to see if anyone knows of anyone selling rope and eventually gets pointed to a stall a little further into the market, and he has good rope, climbing rope, which Joe immediately sets in to start haggling for.

Yes. Hugs are weird. She’s getting more used to them, but they’re definitely still weird. Squeaks’ face scrunches a little when it happens, like a grin that matches the squished feeling. It’s not a bad thing. When it’s followed up with a map, she looks a little confused. Gifts are even more strange in her world than hugs, but she takes the map. A look bounces from it to Joe, and she nods once. “Best idea. Putting the wall maps onto this.”

She hesitates, because the cost of things isn’t lost on her, but Squeaks finds a pocket to put the map in for safe keeping. She should have brought her backpack, it seems. She looks up to find Joe has moved on to another stand and another seller, and jogs after him.

Joe can't help but laugh when he sees that squished up face and what not. "You'll get used to us. I promise." He winks at her and then he's off heading for the rope guy. Whom he negotiates down to a pretty reasonable price, mostly through the fact that rope isn't something in high demand. Food and clothes and other things are in high demand. Joe gets the rope and then uncoils it before he recoils it and ties it off properly, then drops it in his backpack after handing over some money.

"I think I've got everything I'm gonna get from here…" He looks around a little bit. "Unless you know somewhere we can get some twinkies? I haven't had twinkies in… a long long time. A really long time. Like back at the lighthouse. One of Brian's girlfriends brought them over. I… don't remember which one though. But yeah, putting the map on that, where it won't wash away is a good idea, and then you've got a good solid map of the underneath to go by."

“You guys do that a lot.” It’s an observation on hugging. But no complaints. She lingers near the rope stall, but watches the trading happening at another booth instead of Joe’s bartering. While he’s busy coiling the rope and paying, she’s wandered that way. She doesn’t make any purchases herself, she doesn’t even touch anything, but she does spend the time looking over the things being offered. And she’s back by the time he’s ready to move on again.

“I don’t know.” Squeaks looks up at Joe, shoulders popping up in a shrug. “Sometimes they show up, but not often.” Still, there’s always hope that they might find some, from someone who doesn’t know how good cream-filled yellow cakes are. Just maybe not this trip. “Maybe we’ll find some next time.”

"We do. It's a reassurance thing. You never really know what's real when people's faces change, or the face stays the same but it's a different person under it, or people can throw up illusions, or mess with time, or any number of other things. Also we were a bunch of kids scared out of our minds sometimes and huddling together in rooms listening to guns and bombs and evolved power fights and… yeah. Close contact became our reassurance that everything was going to be okay." Joe offers Squeaks a quick grin. He takes notice of the table she wanders over to, and once he's done with the rope he heads over there himself.

"Whatcha find over here?" He asks curiously, head tipping to the side, eyes scanning the merchant's wares that are laid out. "Maybe we can find some snoballs. People say they're not the same thing, but all you gotta do is peel off the crappy coconut frosting thing, seriously it peels right off, and you're left with cream filled sponge cake. It's a twinkie. So maybe we can find some of those. If not I'll see if I can't pick some up from Key. Or see if she can get some for me."

“That never happened where I live,” Squeaks asides to Joe’s explanation. Hugs, contact in the reassuring sense at all, just wasn’t a thing for her. Which makes the action seem weird in her mind, but in the way a different culture seems weird to a foreigner. She’s not put off by it, it’s just something different.

The table she investigated is filled with all manner of things. Mostly odds and ends, baubles and nicknacks that have no real use other than to look pretty or neat or pretty neat. Squeaks makes a face at the snowball suggestion, because that coconut stuff really is gross. “But they’re not really the same,” she points out. “They’re close, almost Twinkies, but not really Twinkies.” Still, she probably won’t complain if the cakes were found. So long as they get rid of the gross coconut stuff.

"Sorry to hear that. Every family is different I guess. We hug. And since you're one of us now…" Joe grins wide as he walks, his shoes scuffing lightly against the ground with each step, his attention constantly moving, head on a swivel around the market as he steps lively. "That coconut stuff is the absolute worst. And it's not the same no, but it's close. We were usually plenty happy with them when we'd get some. But yeah, if you peel that coconut crap off it's pretty good." Joe looks over the table a little bit, at the baubles and bits of random stuff.

I think we're about as prepped as we're going to get without me going to see Key. Which I'll be doing. But I don't want to leave and then remember something… I wonder if the asian place next to Raq's salon has any food today. I could seriously go for some dumplings. Wanna go see?" He asks, nodding in that direction as he starts to change course to head that way. "And if there's ever anything you want? Like one of those things on that table over there… let me know? I'd rather pay for it than it go missing when someone wasn't looking." There's a faint smile on Joe's lips though. No condemnation from him. The LHK's have an odd sense of morality.

“If you remember later, I could always fetch it,” Squeaks offers helpfully. “I don’t mind running back.” She follows his gaze back to the table and tips her shoulders in a small shrug. The things all look neat. “I wouldn’t take anything from the market.” It’s kind of a lie, because she did steal from some vendors. But it was just one time, and she was starving. “From an empty house, probably, but not here.” It’s a risk she doesn’t care to take again.

Dumplings sound like the perfect lunch. Squeaks grins up at Joe and turns nearly a fully circle before finding the right direction for Raquelle’s place. “Let’s go see! I bet if they don’t, we could find that guy that cooks the meats and vegetables on the sticks.”

"Yakitori? Or shish kabob? Either one sounds delicious. Meat and stuff on a stick sounds awesome too." Joe grins as he turns with Squeaks to head for Raquelle's place and the little chinese restaurant next door. "Dumplings, and maybe some fried rice. Fried rice sounds good too. Food sounds good. I like food."

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