choi_icon.gif kenner_icon.gif rhys_icon.gif

Scene Title Nothing
Synopsis SESA makes a harrowing discovery.
Date November 12, 2018

«93 meters

A voice crackles over a radio in the darkness.

«94 meters

A length of rope, barely visible in the infinite darkness, comes tumbling out of an opening in the brick ceiling.

«95 meters.»

Artificial light, warm and amber in color, spills from the mouth of a circular opening in a vaulted brick ceiling. Crumbling masonry covers the wet floor below, where it isn't shifted and cracked with the passage of time.

«96 meters.»

Descending on the rope, a long figure in a canary yellow biohazard suit scans the flooded tunnel with a pair of head-mounted lights.

«97 meters.»

His hip-mounted radio continues to crackle softly with the measurements from the team above, and his feet nearly touch the floor of broken stone below.

«98 meters.»

Boots touch the floor, stone unsettles, and distant noises echo in the dark.


Remaining clipped to the rope at his belt, the yellow-clad explorer sweeps his lights around the tunnel, finding it blocked off by a collapse on one side. Focusing on the other direction instead, he tugs on the line for some slack and starts to walk through the shin-deep sludge toward the sound of distant echoes. As he walks, the passageway slopes downward, amid tangles of garbage and debris. The floor is slick underfoot, stone greased with centuries of refuge.

«Do you s— »

He loses his footing, sliding down to crash against his hip. Too quickly to react, the explorer slides down the concrete ramp, strikes a heap of broken stone and begins to tumble. He crashes head over heels, then comes careening over the edge of another cylindrical opening in the floor, ringed by flowing curtains of water. He screams, the flashlight held in his hand falling down into the darkness as he reaches to grab a hold of the rope. The line goes taut and he snaps in place, swinging violently against one slime-encrusted wall before slowly spinning to a stop, dangling over a dimly lit pit of…

«Copy? Do you see anything?»

He fails to find words.

«Agent Bluthner?»

He fails to find breath.

«Agent Bluthner!»

24 Hours Later

Fort Jay

Governor's Island

NYC Safe Zone

November 12

9:03 am

"We arrived at the Owl's Head Wastewater Treatment Plant in Bay Ridge at 6:0am."

Agent Rhys Bluthner sits with his hands in his lap, looking down at the matte faux-wood finish of the conference room table. Director Kenner and Deputy Director Choi sit across from him, reviewing a report on their tablet devices. "The operations director at Owl's Head let us in, and we walked through the shut down length of sewer pipe with him for about twenty minutes until we reached the down-well intersection." Rhys fidgets, uncomfortably, then looks up to Kenner and Choi.

"Agent Marks and I set up the winch system and connected me to the life line," Rhys explains, looking back down to his lap. "According to the people at Owl's Head, the down-well junction lead nearly 100 meters below the street, to a failed aquifer tap from the mid 1800s. Partial work was done around that time to try and convert the well to a sewer extension, but it was ultimately decided that it was too close to the water table to be safe. So it was closed off. Repairs to the sewer system in 2010 re-opened the line, and public works found out the tunnels had eroded over the last hundred years into a cave network."

"Cave network?" Kenner asks, looking over at Choi to see if she was as confused or surprised as he is. She seems to be waiting for Rhys to fill in the details, and Kenner distractedly returns his attention to some notes in the margins of a physical notepad.

Swallowing awkwardly, Rhys nods. "Cave system."

One Day Earlier

"I'm alright," Rhys says into the microphone in his helmet, staring down into the yawning abyss below him. "I'm— I tripped, but the line caught me. I'm hanging over… over a cave in, I think." He looks back up to where he slid down a draining chute, then back to the abyss below, to the dim glow of a flashlight amid murky water and rocks. "Lower me down another meter, I can almost see something."


With a momentary jerk, Rhys begins to descend down into the opening, and then through the cave ceiling into a great and expansive chamber of limestone and granite, where pools of dark water collect amid rock formations both natural and unnatural. "I'm— seeing brickwork down here, probably fell from above. I don't— " Something catches Rhys' eye, "Wait." Just up ahead, there's faded graffiti on the rocks. "People've been down here," Rhys explains. "Give me another meter."

«100 meters.»

The head lamps on Rhys' helmet illuminate a deep, watery cave. What of it isn't flooded is still damp with moisture in the air. Old graffiti, barely legible on many of the rocks' surfaces, suggests frequent human habitation in the modern era. Demolished remains of shelves, rotted frames of couches, and tangled wreckage of shopping carts paints different stories. "I think this might've been a commune…" he says softly, disbelievingly. "I'm about two meters from the floor, lower me down more."


Present Day

"It was a commune," Rhys confirms, though he's troubled by the notion. "Based on my estimates from the number of human remains we found, at least one hundred people were living down there. We don't have an accurate estimate on date of death, but based on what little of their clothing remained and some of the other artifacts we found down there, I'd estimate they'd been in there since the 80's."

Choi exhales a sigh, looking over to Kenner who seems equally troubled, but only half paying attention. Rather than call Kenner out, she talks over his silence. "Do we have any idea how they got down there?"

"No," Rhys says with a slow shake of his head. "I mean— yes. There's structural damage to some of the sewer tunnels that leads here, but why— I don't… I don't know. Desperation, I suppose. All of this would have been underwater during the war when the hurricane hit New York."

Choi nods, referencing some notes on her tablet. "What about the rats?"

Rhys looks down to his lap.

One Day Earlier

"Okay, I'm going to check out one of these branching passages, I think I can see another chamber up ahead." Rhys radios back, walking across uneven ground toward a crooked fissure in the cave wall. He steps up into the opening, tugging his life line for additional slack, and steps through into the next passage. Once more, Rhys's footing gives out and he drops to the ground, this time with a yelp of fright.

«Agent Bluthner? Are you alright»

Jostled, Rhys slowly checks his suit to make sure its not torn, that none of the sewage had made it in. "I'm ff— " He loses his breath, eyes focused distantly on something ahead of him. Quickly scrambling to his feet, Rhys backs up and abuts against a brick wall streaked with vertical with calcium deposits. He tries to scream, but he can't will himself to. Instead, he just stands there in frozen panic, chest rising and falling sharply.

«Agent Bluthner!»

Animal bones are tangled up with slime-covered masses of paper, fat, and other human waste. It's formed into a quivering heap of excrement and garbage, clinging to the walls of the cave like an urban tumor. Claw marks cover the fatberg, tiny and everywhere. Fur is matted into the mass' bulk, and as Rhys stares beyond it into the darkness, his mouth slowly opening in a silent scream.

«Agent Bluthner!»

Present Day

"Then what?" Kenner asks, looking up from his notebook. "Your report didn't mention anything about the rats, how many there are in the nest, where they've been…" That last piece has Choi giving Kenner a momentary side eye before she looks back to Rhys.

"Did you see the rats, Rhys?" Choi asks anxiously, but all Rhys can do is slowly shake his head in the negative. "Was that not the nest?"

"It was…" Rhys says quietly, shaking his head, "it was."

"Then what did you see?" Kenner asks, frustrated.

"Nothing." Rhys finally says, shakily. "I saw nothing." Choi and Kenner both look at one-another, then back to Rhys. "It was their nest, they'd been living down there all this time, and the storm during the war pushed them up— but— "

Choi and Kenner both hang on the edges of their seats, waiting.

"But they're gone." Rhys finally says, shaking his head in disbelief.

"I saw nothing."

"They're just gone."

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