Sound Check


elisabeth_icon3.gif wf_lance_icon.gif wf_squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Sound Check
Synopsis An audiokinetic, an acoustic field generator, and an echo-locator meet in the wasteland…
Date March 3, 2018

An Underground Parking Garage

It wasn’t the most successful of scavving runs. Some shoes that would definitely fit someone back at camp, a canteen that could probably be useful after a thorough disinfection regiment, and a pair of goggles not quite dark enough to be intended for welding but suitable for cutting the sunlight. No food or water this time.

Squeaks stares at the findings with a faint turn of her mouth. She’d hoped that last place would have held more. It looked promising, but even her own talents weren’t all that useful. Eventually she does look up at Lance across the small pile and shrugs at him. “I should go further next time,” she guesses. She shifts her weight to be less kneeling and more sitting, so she can jab a finger at the shoes.

She's far better at evading the machines than one might expect of a woman not born in this world. Elisabeth's gotten separated from her scav partner, but they'll meet up back at the rendezvous point. The sound of an incoming drone, however, has her ducking into the far side of the same underground parking structure that Squeaks and Lance are hunkered down in. They are potentially the only two other people in the tribe of Eve's people who could even pick up what she does on that far side in the dark — a 'ping' of sound just barely within the range of human hearing, intended to give her a mental map of the spot she's standing in. Because it's very dark over there. And it's sent out, returned, and completely muted in less than 5 seconds. She has no idea that by muting herself in that corner, she might as well be a beacon for a young teen.

“It could be worse,” Lance encourages with a shrug of one shoulder, “Just means someone else hit the place before we did…” He drops down to a squat, picking up the canteen and peering into it, “Still useful stuff, even if it’s not edible. Look, Squeaks, I— “

Then there’s that hum of the drone, and he ducks down instinctively. He can’t ‘hear’ that ping of echolocation, but the younger girl probably can.

The drone sounds draw a wide-eyed look up, and Squeaks holds very still as she listens to it. “Should — “ the question is cut off suddenly when that ping from somewhere else brings her a hazy rendering of the structure. She grabs Lance’s shoulder, part warning and part worry. “Something’s looking,” she whispers.

She crowds a little closer to the older teen, knowing it’s not him making that sound. After a second or two, and with a glance up for the drone she can’t see, she sends out her own series of clicks and squeaks. She turns slowly as the map her ability creates takes form searching for the source.

Elisabeth, once she has the brief map of her immediate area, just hunkers down to listen. She can't do more than get the general outlines of the room she's in, making sure whether there is something in her path in a dark room or where the walls are. In this case, there are too many columns and the walls are too far away to really adequately map anything for her. She learned how to manage her fear of the dark by getting Felix to help her train for navigation in the dark, but that's about the extent of what she can do with it. Crouched low, she's well hidden from the drone now in all the concrete. And her attention is focused on being as still and as silent as she can so as not to draw any attention — but she's an audio sink as far as Squeaks' pings are concerned. There's no bounceback from her silence field — she's never had reason to learn if she could even hide from sonar.

There’s not only the one sonar sink — as soon as Squeaks has warned him, Lance becomes one as well, although it doesn’t spread beyond him directly. His knife’s out in the blink of an eye, clicking silently open with a blade that’s never quite clean anymore.

Silently he watches Squeaks, waiting for a direction— and a target.

With her head turning slowly, Squeaks examines the layout of the underground parking ramp. The map her talents feed back to her is pretty detailed, she can tell the difference between shapes with decent accuracy. Except when there’s a blank spot. It’s happened before and, like that time with Emily, she points a finger in Liz’s direction.

“There.” It’s said with some confidence. It’s hard to mistake a place that doesn’t read to her when everything else around it does. “It’s like you. It’s blank — empty..” She glances toward Lance, then returns to staring at the corner where Liz is hiding. The clicking, squeaking sounds begin again, watching to see if that spot moves.

Liz doesn't move… but the more deliberate set of pings off the edges of her silence field draw her attention. She just doesn't know if it's a machine pinging, and she isn't sure if it is a machine what kind of machine she might be facing. She reaches out, extending her ability to seek out what other sounds come with that ping — clicks, whirrs, ticks, mechanical sounds. But instead she finds a heartbeat. Her head pivots around in the darkness, eyes seeking even though there's no way she'll see the person. Given that it's a person, however, she offers a series of low whistles — some of the scav groups she's come across that work with Eve's people have used them to ID themselves as friendlies and she's picked up a couple of them. Then she waits to see what the other person will do.

One heartbeat is heard, but it’s not Lance’s. He makes a gesture with one hand off to the side— a quick flick of fingers that mean move, distract— and then he’s sliding to the other, rolling silently beneath a ruined car and coming up on the other side in a crouch. Long, slow steps take him between barriers, keeping low, circling around towards the source of that whistle with knife held in one hand.

It may be a friendly. But he can’t trust that. Anyone can copy a whistle.

Squeaks nods at Lance’s signs, without breaking from her ability. The map helps keep her oriented in the almost-no light areas. Taking to hands and knees, however, she crawls quickly in the other direction from the one the older teen takes. She avoids the majority of the columns and barricades, staying more to the open while skulking into a position to flank the blank space. She’s meant to be a distraction, and she knows she can find a place to hide really fast if she gets into trouble.

The drone has passed far enough away now that Elisabeth feels safe enough to leave — but she's aware that she's being sought. The heartbeat of the person that she can hear has kicked up, indicating adrenaline. So the audiokinetic remains still. The fact that there's no return whistle argues for the idea that she should get the hell out of here before some refugee knifes her in the darkness. Her own heart, already beating quick from her retreat from the machine, kicks up as her fight-or-flight response increases. Despite that, her voice remains calm when she calls out in a low voice that carries remarkably well, "Sorry to intrude. I was avoiding the drone. I'm not a threat if you're not."

Lance drops down near-flat, reaching forward with splayed fingers to pull himself slowly beneath another wrecked car— half of it wrapped around a support column— and out the other side, starting to skulk up behind the source of the voice. Another few moments and, if he isn’t discovered in his perfect silence, he should be upon the woman hiding there.

As the voice echoes off the walls and barricades all around, Squeaks sits back on her heels and stares in the direction it came from. That voice sounds familiar. A lot of voices do though, and in places like this parking garage, it’s possible for voices to sound all the same. So she doesn’t answer right away but squints into the dim.

A second later there’s an increase to the clicking and squeaks she’s already sending out. Even Lance might be able to hear as it reaches levels within human hearing. It only lasts seconds, just long enough to get a better picture of the where the blank spot hides — only there’s not a blank spot now. Now there’s…

“Liz?” The question is asked boldly even as the girl presses a hand against one ear and squeezes her eyes shut against the overload of information. She might be able to get behind something for cover if she’s wrong.

For Elisabeth, the voice pattern is easier to recognize, even with the acoustics of the parking garage in play. "Squeaks? Yeah… it's Liz." She moves to stand up, turning on her flashlight finally. "Sorry, didn't mean to startle you like that. You on your own tonight?" Because she doesn't hear anything else and figures they're safe enough if Squeaks is calling out. She moves to start picking her way around the rubble toward the teenager's voice.


The sound of a butterfly knife being closed behind Elisabeth as she starts to move through the rubble is a stark contrast to the silence that had reigned there just moments before.

“No,” Lance says as he slips the knife away somewhere, a smirk tugging up slightly at one corner of his mouth, “Lighthouse are never alone. We watch out for each other. You shouldn’t be out here alone, though— nobody should be. You’re alone, you’re dead, usually.”

Pushing herself to her feet, Squeaks trots the last handful of steps until she’s close enough to poke Liz in the shoulder. She remembers the way, even in the darkness. Her head swivels with Lance speaks up, so she tippy toes to stand more shoulder to shoulder with him. “She’s one of the aliens,” she explains in a whisper aside. Because she told the older boy about the strange visitors asking all the weird questions.

Her attention turns to Liz again, eyes narrowed against the darkness. It doesn’t help as much as it seems like it should. “You’re the one who makes it blank.” The girl’s statement is to the point. The look she gives the other teen is almost accusatory — because he can do the same thing — in a sibling sort of way.

Liz grins as Squeaks appears in the flashlight's, but her body goes rigid at the sound of the knife behind her. She pivots instantly, and her hand flies out as if to push whoever is behind her away as she blocks them from Squeaks' position. The movement is as instinctive as breathing to protect the young woman. Lance's words have her pulling herself upright from the crouch, and when Squeaks is actually close enough to poke her, there's a subtle buzz at the level of Elisabeth's skin. As if something hovers just around her. It eases significantly in those few moments of pseudo-introduction.

"Yeah… alien through and through. He knows that," Liz observes mildly. "Lance, right? I caught your name during the meeting. And I wasn't alone, at least until the drone separated us." She shrugs a little. "It made more sense to split up and force it to follow only one of us." There's a hesitation as the blonde turns to look at the younger girl. "Makes… what blank?" She tilts her head. "The silence bubble? You can sense when I mute the space?"

Lance’s shoulder presses briefly up against Squeaks’ own for a moment before leaning slightly back again, one eyebrow lifting incredulously as he looks the woman over. “An alien, huh? Funny, you don’t look Dru-ish,” he quips.

The question gets a lift of his chin, “Yeah, that’s me. Liz, right? You mentioned you were an audiokinetic back at the meeting.”

“Audio… kinetic.” Squeaks puzzles over the words while side-eyeing Lance. She knows he does the same thing, making the space around him blank to her ability. “Yes,” she eventually says to answer the strange alien woman, tilting her head to look up at her. “I see things with sound. Echolo… echolocation. And you made it blank. Like… it just disappeared.” It seems right as she says it, but her tone isn’t so sure.

Elisabeth laughs outright at Lance. "I wouldn't have thought you old enough to remember Spaceballs," she admits. She nods to them both then, and explains easily to Squeaks. "Audiokinetic — someone who can use the sound around them to do things." She grins at Squeaks, a brilliant smile. "Sounds like you are too. Echolocation is a kind o sound manipulation. I can only do it a little bit — never learned to do much more than use it in a dark room to make sure I didn't trip on things. Sounds like you can do a lot more than that with it. Very cool." She tilts her head and looks curious, a little more serious suddenly. "I wonder if I can figure out how to make it so you can't see that," she muses. "I wouldn't much like for the machines to figure out they can use sonar like you do."

“Magnes watched it with us once,” is Lance’s simple response regarding Spaceballs, a shoulder coming up and down; a shadow of suspicion shading his eyes as he regards Liz, “That wasn’t him in that meeting, though.” Except it was. “Isn’t any such thing as aliens, though.”

Explain is a demand he doesn’t speak aloud, but is clear in his posture and expression.

“It’s tricky,” he notes to her last words. Maybe he’s saying it’s possible, maybe he’s not.

“They are aliens,” Squeaks whispers insistently. There’s no other explanation for asking about tourist places. She folds her arms across her chest and mimics Lance’s posture. She’s not entirely suspicious, however, she’s more openly curious of the woman. “I can find my way through anything, like it’s plain as day. It’s like making maps. Oh! And I can find things.” She’s not sure about how to hide from her sonar-ish ability. She knows something is there, but what is usually a mystery until it’s physically seen. So she shrugs at that.

Hmmm. It's definitely worth thinking about. "That is really cool, Squeaks. Maybe if we have the chance, you could teach me a little more about how to do that." As Liz mentioned, her own use is very basic. But she also realizes that Squeaks apparently took the 'alien' thing as literal. "I'm not really an alien, Squeaks," she admits with a small smile. "I'm just … not from around here." Her blue eyes flicker back up to Lance.

"No, it wasn't your Magnes. Just like I'm not your Liz Harrison." She figures they've never met the other Liz. "It's kind of a long story. One of the men who travels with us has the ability to open portals. We came here from another Earth. Kind of a step sideways from here, an alternate dimension." It seems simplest to just leave it at that, honestly. "I know that sounds pretty far-fetched, but… you live in a world of audiokinetics and echolocators and people who fly and hurl electricity." She shrugs slightly. "It's just a different kind of ability. And I guess Einstein predicted that alternate dimensions were possible, so…. There we go."

“An alternate dimension?” Lance regards her bemusedly, “Why did you come here, then? This is pretty much…” He sweeps a hand out to encompass the entirety of the parking garage, which then sweeps back to rest on his other arm, “…the least good option out there, I gotta imagine. This world is shit.”

There’s a sharp bitterness in his tone, “So why did you come here?”

If the younger teen’s eyes could go any wider, they’d probably pop out of her head by the time Liz’s story finishes. A different Earth and traveling between them, that’s even better than aliens in their midst. “So you’re human then,” she decides, still in no way sharing in Lance’s suspicion — sure, this world is not good, but she’s always been one more interested in the unknowns about strange and interesting things. And people.

Squeaks takes a step forward, just a small one, and reaches out to poke a finger into Liz’s shoulder. Tangibility makes things more real, right? “So you really, for reals didn’t know about …anything.”

"I'm definitely human, Squeaks. And we didn't exactly choose to come here, Lance." Elisabeth grimaces just a little. "No one would exactly choose that. I knew… about your world, although that's kind of a long story too." Her blue eyes come back to Squeaks. "And no… I really for reals didn't know … pretty much anything. I was winging it." She sighs heavily. "I've done a lot of traveling in my time. Your world is pretty bleak." She looks between them. "But don't give up." She sounds sad. "Don't ever give up. Things you do? They matter. Even if you don't think they do."

She looks out over the parking deck and its darkness. She doesn't seem to mind Squeaks poking her to check for really realness. "I hope what Eve has seen works."

“Eve’s head is full of botswarf,” is Lance’s dry observation, “But I’ll try anything; we’re desperate, we know it. And…” He frowns, glancing away even as Squeaks steps forward to poke at Liz, “My sister’s in there. My stupid— fucking— kool aid drinking sister.”

He looks back to her, and shrugs, admitting, “I was gonna go anyway. This just means I got backup.”

Curiosity satisfied, at least for right now, Squeaks steps back to stand beside Lance again. She raises a hand to lightly touch his arm, meant to be a comfort and maybe soothe some of the anger. She can’t make it better, but she kind of understands the hard feelings. It’s no secret that it’s worse inside the dome than it is outside. She looks between the older teen and not-alien woman, and picks up her shoulders a little bit. They’re not giving up as far as she’s concerned.

"You mentioned that… I'm sorry," Elisabeth tells Lance. "It can't be easy to have family in there. We'll just have to do the best we can to get them all out." She sighs quietly. "So.., have either of you actually talked to anyone who's been in there? I'd ask Damaris, but…. I have the notion she might pop me in the face before she talks to me." She sounds amused at the idea.

“She doesn’t want to get out,” Lance says quietly. The touch to his arm brings his attention back to Squeaks, and he offers her a faint smile before looking back to Elisabeth, shaking his head, “Not anyone who’s escaped. I was just in one of the camps, never in the Outer District.”

“No. I don't think.” Squeaks has been with the Lighthouse for as long as she cares to remember, and usually stays within their company. Since she's on the younger end, she doesn't have a lot of reason to wander off into the bands of adults. If she's overheard anything, well that's her secret. As she answers she looks up at Lance and nods.

Nodding slightly to both of them, Elisabeth is quiet for a time. As if perhaps she doesn't know what to say. When she looks back at them, her gaze is troubled. "Lance… do you mind if I ask how extensive your ability is? Your silence field is damn impressive. Even better than the one Conrad taught me." She hasn't had reason to think of Conrad Wozniak in a long time. Here in this world, she has to smile faintly as she realizes she's going back in a lot of ways to those days… only now she's the teacher and perhaps a student too, if Squeaks can show her what she does. "What else can you do with sound?"

Lance crooks an eyebrow upwards. “It’s pretty specific,” he admits, gesturing with one hand to— well, nothing, but the others might feel a sudden dead silence to one side, “It’s, uh— directional acoustic field generation. Sound goes one way, doesn’t go out the other. Flattens out the waveform, or something, one of the eggheads told me once.”

He shrugs one shoulder, “I can’t do all the fancy audiokinetic tricks, though.”

In the silence, Squeaks wanders a tiny circle until she’s found a barricade really close by to sit on and watch. The silence, the deadening of noises, is kind of a weird thing for her. It isn’t really bothersome, so much as it causes blank spots in her perception. But she’s okay with sitting and watching. It’s still neat to observe and she might even puzzle out a way around the sound vacuum.

Elisabeth definitely feels the silence. The sound waves just disappear in her senses in that one spot. She can't tell what he's doing within the field. A slight frown of concentration pulls her brows together as she focuses. "Oh wow," she murmurs. "Okay… that's not how mine works. Or at least…. I guess it could be, if I'd thought to do it that way? I can reflect them, so sort of… almost like putting a wall between the sound waves I want inside the bubble and the ones outside. Anything outside, they just sort of roll over and around or bounce backward off of the bubble. The ones inside, reflect inward and let anyone inside the field just hear the people inside the field. I can… well, I can make it permeable only in one direction too, but that takes just a little more concentration. Yours is much simpler, but very effective. Can you hear anything at all inside it?"

Liz doesn't mean to leave Squeaks out of the conversation and shoots the younger girl a smile of apology, even though Squeaks doesn't seem to mind.

“It’s one-way, like I said,” Lance explains, “So I can be silent, or I can keep a whole group silent, but everyone in the bubble can hear everything outside still. Nothing out, everything in— or the other way around.”

He shrugs, “It’s useful for meditation sometimes. Just— block everything out except your own heartbeat.” Then he flashes her a grin, “Freaks some people out, though.”

The younger teen seems perfectly fine with watching. It really does give her a chance to watch and listen. She rests her chin in her hands while the sound manipulators talk shop. And since she isn’t otherwise occupied, she keeps watch too. No need to let robots or drones or bandits sneak up on anyone. A brief series of clicks is sent out, with Squeaks’ head turning one way and then the other in a quick study of their surroundings.

Elisabeth nods to Lance, her grin easier. "So you each have a sound-based power. That's…. actually pretty damn cool," she admits. Her blue eyes darken just a hint as she thinks of something and then she kind of shrugs a little. Joshua's power is sound based too… and she wonders if Aurora's will be or if it'll be something totally different.

The clicks that Squeaks makes are only caught because they're already discussing powers, and Elisabeth is fascinated again. "I would definitely like to learn a little more about how you use yours, Squeaks. I can send out a ping like that, maybe a little different, but I can't figure how to make the sensory information I'm getting back make more sense than just basic 'there's a wall there or an opening over here or an object in the path' kinds of stuff."

“Yeah.” Lance looks over to Squeaks with a fond look, then looks back to Elisabeth, “We do. We work well together— the whole Lighthouse does. So what’s your plan, anyway? You staying in this world, or leaving?” She’s watched carefully. Maybe he’s wondering if there’s a way out for them too.

“Yeah.” Squeaks agrees in a slightly distracted way, the powers are pretty cool and she’s using hers to check for scary things. She turns her full attention back to Liz and Lance with a shrug a few seconds later. “Not like a sonar, not a ping,” she explains slowly, really thinking hard about how to describe what she does.

The question from Lance lifts her curiosity and derails any more thought or talk about powers. The girl scoots forward on the barricade and leans toward the two in interest of the answer.

Liz herself is diverted from the conversation and she looks at the younger people with an expression that is somber. "The plan's a little up in the air due to the complications… but we're leaving if there is any way possible to do it," she admits quietly. "I can't promise under what conditions we'll be able to try it. And I can't promise what there will be on the other side. And I can't even promise I'll be able to take everyone who wants to go. But … that said… if you're in the right place at the right time and everything goes just right… I won't turn away anyone who wants to bail, Lance." She just can't offer false hopes to other people. Not with the fiasco that this jump turned into. And she won't lie to them about the chances. It's dicey, at best.

Lance glances to Squeaks, and then looks back to Liz… and after a moment he shakes his head. “No, then,” he says, straightening up, “I imagine the Lighthouse won’t all be there, and I’m not leaving them. We’ll make due with what we’ve got here.”

By the look on her face, Squeaks is conflicted about both answers. The possible opportunity to be away from this… wasteland is tempting. Anywhere has to be better than barely surviving, right? But leaving parts of the Lighthouse behind doesn’t sound as great. They’re her family. She starts to say something, maybe to voice a question or concern. Her eyes dart from Liz to Lance, and she ends up huffing a breath instead.

Elisabeth nods slightly. "The choice is on the table, if you want it. I can't tell you whether the Lighthouse will be there… Or in my own homeworld either. I can tell you that leaving one world for another? It just brings with it different problems. And sometimes it's better to deal with the problems you know rather than the ones you can only speculate about — because I promise you, the ones in my world? They were bad. But the ones in this world? Way the fuck worse. And if I had the choice, I'd have stayed in my home with my family and friends to fight there instead of fighting other people's wars."

Her tone is not gentle, but it's not overly harsh either. It's simply a statement of fact.

“You’re here. You’re Slice.” Lance’s lips twitch in a faint smile, “This is your war too, now, until you find your way home. Wherever you find it, if you find it. I mean, this is all assuming that Eve’s insane plan doesn’t just get us all killed.”

“Eve has a plan?” Squeaks might have been content to sit and wallow over indecision, but that news is… news. She can’t imagine what kind of a plan it might be, but if it involves the strangers from another planet then it must be something really super big.

Which means there’s questions that need answers.

“What’s this plan? How come only you know, Lance?” Squeaks leans way forward on the barricade to stare with big eyes up at the older teen. And Liz, too, she’s not forgotten in all the questions, those she thinks to ask and those she doesn’t. “Is it a plan to get away from all this stuff? Can I be in the plan too?”

A brow quirks up at the word Slice, and it takes Elisabeth a long moment to parse out what he means. "SLC… Slice?" she asks, amused. And then she nods slightly. "It is my fight for as long as I'm here." Just like the Virus world and just like Arthur's world… "I sure as hell can't get anywhere sitting on my ass, so… may as well fight while I'm here." She doesn't know how to stop doing that, how to stop taking care of people.

The blonde glances at Squeaks and purses her lips in a faint moue. Aw, ya did it now… baby sister is askin' questions you might not wanna answer, kiddo. But Lance let the cat out of the bag and so now Liz feels that at least some of those questions need to be addressed. "Yes, there's a plan. You know what Eve's ability is, yeah?" She slants a glance at the young man. "She's seen something that is the beginnings of a plan… if she needs your skills, I have no doubt she'll let you know pretty quick, Squeaks." God, she hopes the fuck not. "Right now, though, the specifics have to be kept top secret — we can't take any chances at all that details could slip. That gets people dead, yeah?" She's not treating Squeaks like a small kid who can't understand — more, she's laying it out as she would to any other combatant who wants to do their part. "Lance will tell you more when he can. If he can."

“She’s with my unit,” says Lance firmly to Elisabeth as she edges around the top secret topic, shaking his head, “She needs to know at least the general idea of what I’m going to be doing, even if she doesn’t need to know the details.”

He hesitates all the same, looking over to Squeaks as he considers how to explain before coming out with— “I need to go into the Outer District, Squeaks. Amongst other things, I’m going after my sister Hailey.”

“Everybody needs my skills.” Simple youthful confidence in that statement, because who couldn’t use detailed topographical maps and the ability to find hidden things? Squeaks doesn’t go for the more obvious questions, she knows why things need to be kept secret and how why Lance would want the chance to rescue his sister. What she wants to know is, “What other things? Is she going to tell us more?”

Getting her feet under her, the younger teen stands up on the barricade. “I can go find out myself, right?” She could, maybe should, go find the seer and ask all her questions directly. “I can keep secrets. And then Eve can know what I can do.” Even though on some level she understands what Liz is saying, and what Lance isn’t saying, she’s probably going to make her way into things.

"Of course they do," Liz agrees easily enough. "And I don't know what she's going to tell us, honestly. I think… she might not have all the specifics worked out quite yet. Trying to figure out who we need inside and who we need more outside here. I'm quite certain you'll have a job to do, so be ready, hmm?" The kids who live in this world are capable beyond their years. She's pretty sure Eve will use every advantage.

“The high and mighty prophetess hasn’t graced us with the fine details yet anyway,” admits Lance in dry tones, shoulders raising up and then falling, “I just hope she actually has a plan— but yeah, go talk to her if you want. You’re useful as hell, especially when it comes to finding your way around places.”

He flashes Squeaks a grin, “I hate not working as a unit like usual, but we gotta do what we gotta do.”

“I’m ready.” No boasting there, all the kids are ready. It’s just a way of life. Squeaks hops off the barricade to stand looking up at Liz and Lance now. “At least you got someone watching your back,” she points out to the older teen. She hopes he has someone watching his back, anyway.

“You two do sound things some more,” the younger teen goes on to suggest. “I want to watch.” And it gives her time to think more. “Lance and I sometimes try to see if I can get sounds outside his silence thing. If I’m inside, I can’t yet.”

Elisabeth smiles faintly. "If you wanted," she tells them both. "I'd love to feel how Squeaks uses her sound power — maybe my version of it will be more useful. You said we both make blank spots, but do those blank spots feel the same?"

“It’s easy to filter all sound, but… filtering certain sounds is a lot harder,” Lance admits, shaking his head, “I’m not even sure if I can do it, but hey, you don’t know until you try, right?”

The question about the blank spots has him looking from her to Squeaks, brows lifting a little. He’s curious too!

Raising her shoulders a little is sort of an agreement. Squeaks was happy enough to listen to Liz and Lance talk and maybe sneak her own ability in to try things while they worked. But she can try to explain how it looks to her, too. “When Lance makes it silent, it’s like… like looking through a window. You can see things outside, but I can’t see things. And when Liz makes it silent, it’s the same but inside out.”

She pauses, knowing what she means but thinking it might make better sense another way. So she gets onto her knees in the flashlight’s light and, with little rocks and bits of debris, makes short walls coming into a corner. “Liz hides in the corner and makes it silent. The walls and everything just stop.” She pushes away the debris to show where she can’t see with her ability. “Nothing for the sound to come back. Holes and …everything there’d be jagged edges and stuff, not just stopping.”

The description makes Liz have to stop and think about what she's doing when she makes it silent, watching Squeaks build an approximation of what she senses with avid interest. "Okay… so… if I'm sitting in the corner like that," she points, "and you ping it…." She frowns slightly, trying to visualize. "Your ping goes out from you, like this," she draws lines radiating in circles like a rock dropped in a pond, unidirectional toward the corner of the wall structure that Squeaks built. "And when it hits my bubble, it just… absorbs? The rest of the waves from around that bubble come back, but those ones don't?" She kinda draws a rough diagram of what she's thinking, showing the split of waves coming back. "And Lance's… the ping wave comes back from his so he's like a solid 'blank' object where you can't tell what's there?"

Lance cocks his head to one side, glancing to Liz and then back to Squeaks with open interest in his manner. Maybe this could help them figure out how to get that particular trick pulled off…

Sitting back on her heels, Squeaks looks up at Lance and Liz while she thinks about her explanation, and what the not-alien woman says also. She does look down at the drawings, head tilting toward one shoulder as she studies them. “Yes,” she decides, dragging the word out as she still considers the answer and if it fits the explanations. “I think so. Lance and I tried a bunch to just make my ability work through his. But one of us usually ends up dizzy or something.”

"Huh…. interesting." Elisabeth grins at the two of them, genuinely intrigued. "I'd really like it if you can show me how you flatten out sound waves, Lance," she admits. "I'll try and help you guys with anything you want me to. I … really like learning new aspects of my power."

“Can you see it? I mean, I don’t know how I can show you how…” Lance’s shoulders roll in a shrug, and the silence field sweeps over him; no breath escaping, no rustling of clothes. It’s somewhat eerie, really, all those little audible cues that someone is there suddenly gone even though they’re fully visible.

When Lance gets all silent with his ability, Squeaks grins a little bit. It’s weird when the sound vanishes, but she’s always found it really neat. Except when she’s using her own ability and big brother decides to make her go silent, that’s not always so fun. Looking from the older teen to Liz, she lets her shoulders bounce with a shrug.

Liz pays close attention to what he's doing. A faint frown pulls her brows together and she looks even more intrigued. "Okay that's really … cool, actually." She tilts her head and tries to lightly pulse sound waves around his field some, to see if she can figure out what he's doing, nothing seems to be working. It feels to her senses like once the waves hit his field, they're just gone. There's nothing there left for her to catch hold of with her power and she can't get a sense for how he's doing it. It really does seem to her like just a null spot.

Glancing at Squeaks, the frown clears up some and Elisabeth looks actually kind of excited. "I wonder if he not actually manipulating sound waves but essentially negating them. I knew a negative once who kind of felt like that to my senses." She waves at Lance, in case he can't hear them so that he can join in, because she can't tell. "When you're inside there, did you say you can't hear what's going on inside your area of effect? Or if someone talks to you inside that field, can you hear them?"

The field’s gone in the literal blink of an eye, and Lance explains, “I can hear just fine. It’s a one-way filter - sound goes in, doesn’t go out. Or the other way around, really, if I just feel like getting some peace and quiet.”

He grins, “I’m the traffic light controller for sound, I guess.”

“You should try being inside his silence,” Squeaks suggests. Maybe it would give Liz another way of experiencing the effects. It could only add to the puzzle, too. “When I'm here, outside, and he's inside, my sounds go in but they can't come back.” She adds that part as an example to Lance’s explanation.

"Looks like you are. Let me step inside it and see if I can see it… I'd really like to learn at least partially how to do this. Could come in real handy for dissipating my own concussion waves, maybe." That's, at least, what Liz would like to be able to do with them. Maybe not exactly in the same way, but if she can figure out how he does it maybe she can extrapolate a way to emulate it. She grins at Squeaks. "Ping us while we're in there? I want to see if I can still sense you while he's doing what he does."

“Alright, then, let me….” Lance doesn’t need to lift his hands to use his power, but it helps him visualize it, so he does— bringing them up and sweeping them to the sides, the field encompassing himself and Liz both.

“So, you can hear me,” he explains easily, “And you can hear Squeaks— but she can’t hear either of us now.”

Standing up again, Squeaks watches Lance and Liz until she’s sure she can’t hear them. It might take a minute longer than necessary, just to be sure, because sometimes there’s silliness and being fake-silent. But when she’s sure, she clicks at the pair, nose wrinkling with the effort or lack of feedback.

Elisabeth is definitely intrigued by the way he's doing it… because it's definitely NOT the way she does it, though it works similarly. When she expands her senses out to try to feel around it, though, it's brutally disorienting. "Jesus," she breathes. "It's kind of like being negated." She shudders. Despite the sound waves she can hear — the fact that she can hear Squeaks just fine, she can't do anything with the waves in here. As soon as she touches them to manipulate them, they just evaporate from her perception. She waves a hand quickly. "Okay… I see what you mean. I don't think I can do what you do… although I might be able to do something similar. But it definitely doesn't work the same way."

“I can reverse it, too— “ Lance twists his hand, and suddenly they can’t hear Squeaks, although she can hear them. Those sonar-pings of hers can’t even reach them now, rather than just never coming back. “—and now the world’s all quiet and it’s just us.”

Eerily quiet, really. If one listens closely enough they can hear their own biological functions.

From where she’s standing, Squeaks can’t really tell the difference until she hears Lance speaking again. She sends her own sounds out for a bit longer, not pushing it into a range that would bring her better details but just steady; her all the time use like when the Lighthouse is out scavving. But eventually she does stop, letting silence return while she watches the pair of sound manipulators.

For Elisabeth, the shifting of direction does actually manage to give her a small sense of how he does it. She nods at the illustration of how it works. "What I do is similar, but I never lose sense of the sounds outside the bubble when I enclose myself and someone else to let us talk. They can't hear us outside the bubble, but I can still feel all the sound waves inside and out. When you do it, I can't." She nods slightly. "Thank you… this is actually really interesting for me. I appreciate you showing me how you do it."

“If we need to run together out there at some point,” Lance says with a shake of his head, the field dropping without further ado, “It’s important we understand how each others’ abilities work.”

He smiles mirthlessly, “Not that that’ll matter once we’re inside.”

Turning from the two sound manipulators, Squeaks trots away to the tiny pile of found things. She sits on her knees again and ties the shoes together and loops the laces through the belt loop on the canteen. The goggles are pulled over her own head to dangle around her neck for easier carrying, too. Small things that need to be done anyway, and to let the two talk shop more.

"It may," Elisabeth murmurs quietly. Because the purpose of sneaking in there is so that some of them are not negated. "We shall see." Pulling in a slow breath, she looks at Squeaks now that the field is down. "And I know you can't show me how you do it, but can you maybe try to explain to me how you actually map things in your head? I can follow the soundwaves part of it fine, but I have never figured out a way to image them in my head. Do you just do it automatically?"

“It won’t for me, anyway,” says Lance with a shake of his head. He isn’t sneaking. His jaw set, he knows what his path into the District is. “I just hope Eve knows what she’s doing…” He looks to Squeaks then, and back to Liz curiously.

After pulling the goggles down around her neck, Squeaks looks over her shoulder. Her face gets a little bit puzzled at the question, it’s something she hasn’t really thought about. “It’s… just kind of automatic.” She sounds almost like she’s answering with her own question, being very unsure of how to explain how it works. “I just make sounds and… It’s like it all just maps out in my head. I can guess how far things are and what’s moving… What’s all around, really.” She looks at Lance, then back to Liz.

Elisabeth's glance at Lance speaks volumes of me too. But she pays attention to the answer Squeaks gives, and nods slightly. "I've practiced a decent bit with mine, but the best I've been able to manage on that front is getting a really good read on the solid lines in my immediate vicinity. So like I can tell if I'm in a large room or small — and I can guesstimate size sometimes, based on the context, you know? Like warehouse versus apartment living room is easy. I can pick out when there's an object in my path, and I'm pretty good at that, and if I'm walking along a wall I can usually find the opening in it. If there's a door it's a lot harder because that just looks like a wall to me, there's not enough difference in the way the sound wave feels to be able to tell." Not for her. She shrugs slightly. "It's a really cool use of the ability, though."

“I think her ability is more— physical,” says Lance with a shake of his head at Elisabeth’s explanation, “Like, I think it’s more vocal cords and ears than our way of controlling sound, honestly.”

He flashes a grin over to the younger girl, “She’s like a bat, just without the wings.”

“I can see the door, and the cracks around the door, the door knob…” There’s no boast in her tone, just listing off the details like a shopping list. Squeaks nods also, with Lance’s description of her own ability. “I make the sounds myself, and then…” She waves a hand to show all the things around them. “It’s there. Here.” She taps her head.

Elisabeth nods at Lance's description and then grins at Squeaks. "I'll remember that when I need someone in the down under," she tells the girl. Picking up her bag, she shoulders it and then sighs. "All right, guys… I have to get back and rendezvous with my partner before she thinks I've gone and gotten obliterated." She starts picking her way back through the rubble to go back out onto the streets. "Be careful, yeah? See you next time."

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