Undermining the Noble Experiment


brian_icon.gif rue_icon.gif samara2_icon.gif

Scene Title Undermining the Noble Experiment
Synopsis The Ferry's scouting party investigates an old house on the edge of Jamaica Bay to see if it is a suitable candidate for a new safehouse.
Date February 15, 2011

Jamaica Bay: Bay House

Snow falls like ash and settles on clay roof tiles, short, stout ledges covered with lichen and moss that will bleed green in the spring, and dusts the pavement outside the little brick house on the edge of Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn. Winter is the worst time to be surveying derelict properties like this one — it's cold, and ice makes exploration treacherous. Fortunately, the wooden side-gate that separates the front of the house from the back yawns open, giving the trio standing out on the curb a view of what to expect on the other side, which opens out into a field of tall grass and frozen cattails speckled with red-winged blackbirds huddled together for warmth, and although there's a rusty old barbed wire fence that marks where this land ends and distant dunes of sand begin, the view of the water is pristine and sparkling even with the mist rolling up over the rocky shoreline.

It would make an ideal summer home, and maybe at one point it did, but that was before the bomb, before the endless winter and November riots burning large parts of the city to embers. Now it's in a state of disrepair, sagging roof and shattered windows boarded up with rotten planks of crumbling wood.

Sable had mentioned they might discover that potential safehouses are already occupied by others, and that seems like it might be the case here — there's thin, watery smoke rising from a broken patch of roof, and a feral cat with golden eyes and sooty black fur watches them from the stoop.

"It's kind of pretty, actually," Rue Lancaster assesses, standing at the curb with her head tilted to one side as she takes in the building and the property around it. "If we can get it fixed up, I bet the kids would love it here." She adjusts the hang of the slim messenger bag around her shoulders, packed with snacks, a flashlight, her cell phone, a fold out pocket knife and a bolt cutters. (You never know.)

Denim is the fabric of choice today. Skinny jeans and a jacket, worn over a faded orange sweatshirt with Greek lettering across the chest that Rue couldn't tell you what it means. "Looks like there's someone inside." At which point she turns to Brian, as though this is his area of expertise.

Layers upon layers of clothes make Samara Dunham feel like the Michelin Man, even if she's no where near that padded, particularly as she can still move her joints, clearly she has a few steps to take before entering full-blown Michelin Man status. The husky toque (adorned with ears, eyes, and a cute little closed mouth) that covers her ears is tugged a little further down, covering as much as she can manage while her matching mittens, which are more like really warm sock puppets worn over her fingers to keep the chill out.

Her lips hitch high to one side in a lopsided grin. "I like it. Although.. I guess— " she turns her head to watch Brian, "— it wouldn't be permanent? I know you were talking about going more centralized or legitimate or something." She rocks on the balls of her feet, back and forth as her mittened hands tuck into the pocket of her black hoodie. Again her lips twist, this time a thoughtful position as her eyes squint at the cat on the stoop. "Isn't it bad luck if a black cat crosses your path…? Or is that only true if you're walking and it crosses paths on like a fork in the road…"

Reaching for his gun inside his jacket, Brian takes a step forward. Pausing as Samara starts to babble, a light smirk grows on his lists. Turning some he leans over to plant a brief kiss on her lips. Though he doesn't really have an an answer. The clip is popped out of the gun, Brian examining the magazine before reinserting it. The gun is then replaced in his holster. Track jacket zipped back up. Looking over at Rue, Brian points one finger out. "Sam stays with you." A slightly stern look then given to his fiancee as he makes his slow way towards the brick house.

Not as heavily clad as Samara, the young man wears a black beanie, a blue track jacket and a pair of jeans. He's very cold but, if he's going to have to protect two and a quarter women (or man) he needs his range of movement.

Brian's footsteps leave shallow prints in the snow as he moves around the side of the house, through the open gate, and across an old stone patio broken and slick with ice, dead weeds withering in the cracks. The cat slips after him with a creaky growl, shoots between his legs and launches itself up on top of an overturned wheelbarrow near the back door. Unlike the side gate, it isn't hanging open, but it doesn't look as though the lock works either.

Back on the curb, the sound of Brooklyn traffic is muffled by the snow and the surrounding buildings, many of them occupied if the dim, flickering lights in the windows are anything to judge by. Centralized might not be the word for it, but at least they'd have neighbors.

Quiet ones.

"It's only bad luck if you're actually superstitious, Casper," Rue teases gently. Her nose wrinkles instinctively when Brian plants a kiss on Samara's lips. Fortunately the mask she wears to prevent possibly spreading the N5-N10 virus to her friends hides the majority of that expression. "Don't worry. I'll take care of her."

Rue shakes some of the snow from her hair and follows Brian with her eyes. "I guess he's kind of cute," she murmurs to Samara, as though noticing her fiance's features for the first time. "For a boy." When nothing jumps out at him when he steps foot on the porch, she begins to creep after him. If he needs back-up, she should try to be close by, right?

The kiss is returned a little late, only instinctively as Brian begins pulling away. The instructions Brian gives Rue cause Samara's eyebrows to arch. Her hazel eyes narrow slightly, but a resigned puff of foggy breath comes out in a pseudo-sigh as she shrugs lightly, while her nose wrinkles, "I'm a big a girl. I can take care of myself." Mostly. Besides, she'd agreed to play it safe yesterday, kind of, enough to keep her from edging too quickly after him. Although, the edging is still there.

The surrounding buildings cause her lips to purse, silent homage to the nearly eerie feeling flickering lights give, even if they indicate nothing on their own aside from the need to replace a fluorescent light bulb. Her arms draw tightly around her chest as she casts Rue a sidelong glance, "He's more than 'kind of' cute… I like his curly hair soooo much…"

Glaring after the cat, Brian frowns at the stupid animal, stumbling to the side in an effort not to step on it. Letting out a hiss of a curse, Brian stabilizes himself and nears the door. Standing near the door, Brian tilts his head. Looking over his shoulder to the girls, Brian gives a large toothy and partly dopey smile coupled with a big thumbs up. Dropping his hand, Brian nudges against the door. Before letting out two raps on the door.

"Hello?" He calls out, nudging the door open a little. "Hello? Anyone here?" Winters asks he pushes the door enough so that he can slide on in.

Inside, Brian finds the source of the smoke: a metal drum stuffed with old newspaper and pieces of driftwood that likely washed up on the shore less than a half mile away from the edge of the wire fence. A box of matches sits on the wooden floorboards nearby and a small fire flickers inside the drum, visible through corroded holes in its flimsy metal sides. On top of the drum is a metal grate, and on top of the grate is a shallow pan of pasta drenched in tomato sauce with processed meatballs — the kind that comes from a can and has a texture like cat food, which of course interests the feline on top of the wheelbarrow. It makes another plaintive sound at Brian again but does not budge from its perch.

"Go away," says a small voice from the adjacadent hall.

"I've got curly hair. It's not like he's… special or anything." Except that he is. To Samara. Rue ticks her tongue against the roof of her mouth and rolls her eyes. "Okay, so he's special. S'only because he somehow manage to wear the curls without the skater hair or afro effects. Literally the only reason." What kind of surrogate sister would she be if she didn't give the happy couple a hard time? Never mind the fact that she's unhappy herself. A time and a place for everything, and this is neither. Rue steps up onto the porch and leans in toward the door, while staying tucked against the brick wall, listening to the exchange.

There's a slight cant of Sami's head as again her eyebrows tick upwards. The sparkle in her eyes as she wordlessly disagrees with Rue's original assessment is beyond legible across every nuance of her face, a silent protest to the denial of her fiancee's specialness. "There's a lot more reason than that. He sees me. And I don't mean in like the normal way, just— " her cheeks flush involuntarily as she slides against the brick on the side opposite Rue, this isn't the time or place to babble, even if nerves make any time the perfect time to babble.

"Cat. You stay away from that spaghetti." Brian commands cleanly. Giving the cat a dirty look. His mouth closes for a minute. Before waving a shooing hand, "Get out of here, Sparkles." Winters says grouchily, before the small voice grabs his attention. Taking a few steps in Brian pauses. Peering down the hallway, he tilts his head some.

"No." He answers back, though not necessarily in a hostile way. Just matter of factly.

"You going to come out so I can see you? Your spaghetti is very cold." Brian points out, taking another step into the darkness. Pausing, he shifts his bodyweight some to peer down. "I don't want to fight or anything.. But.. Come on. I won't hurt you."

"Mrrrrr," says the cat, making a sound at the back of its throat like a constipated child.

The voice inside belongs to one, too. "Yes you will," it says, and Brian catches a glimpse of a pale hand shrinking fingers away from the door frame. The child is still of the age where it's difficult to tell whether they're a girl or a boy without looking at them — their tone has a quality like crushed velvet, its texture rough except for the edges, which are very smooth.

Built-in bookshelves with warped glass doors suggest this is some sort of drawing room. Through an archway, the remains of a kitchen have still more newspaper taped to the walls and over the windows that are still intact to either keep the light out during the day or prevent people, like Brian, from looking in. A week of cleaning might do wonders for the little house, even if they lack the money to replace the cracked tile floors and may have to just fill them instead. Apart from a hole in the roof and weak points in the floorboards beneath Brian's feet, easily repaired, things appear salvageable with a good scrub-down and a new coat of paint.

Rue's shoulders hunch in a bit as she quells the urge to giggle at Samara's babbling. She brings a gloved finger up to her masked lips and shakes her head, a breath of laughter escaping through her nose. She peeks her head in through the doorway. "Heyyyy. Nobody here's gonna hurt you, kiddo. Where's you-"

Blue eyes slowly slant back the direction she came from to peer out of the corner of her eye, but there's only ginger waves in her periphery. "Where're your mom and dad?" Rue asks, tone made much flatter by the fact that she's expecting to see someone with a shotgun levelled at her when she finally turns her head back to peer over her shoulder. Parents are protective of their kids! And she doubts a kid that age came up with their own makeshift stove like that.

There's a little tug at Sam's heartstrings at the insistence from the small voice. Sami slowly shuffles to the entrance despite the former instructions that she shouldn't come in. The circumstances hardly dictate hanging back— in her own mind, anyways. But then she hangs back with a mischievous tug of her lips.

One of her puppet mittens is held out around the corner of the door towards where she thought she heard the voice emulating. Her voice changes into her best Marvin the Martian impression as she has her mitten-puppet do the talking for her in a very ridiculous voice, "Helloooooo~" it's moments like these that she wishes she'd invested in alien mittens instead of the huskies, but c'est la vie. The affirmation comes from the puppet, echoing the real people, "You're gonna be a-okay! In fact, I bet you'll be beyoooooond okay~ Is anyone else home right now?"

While Rue and Samara may feel like they need to act like adults and be all comforting Brian throws up his arms in a staying gesture. "No I won't." He shoots back. Not about to be out-argued by this little shemale. Looking across the room, he frowns lightly at the two women. Looking down at the child, he cocks his head to the side.

A memory slinks into his mind, a large building… a child and a young woman at his side… a spider like child on the inside..

For some reason, Winters highly doubts that there are any parents to be spoken of. But despite the child's hesitance, Brian goes to step around the kid slowly. Trying to peer down the hallway. Shiffting away from the kid to peer through the rest of the house.

The child could have tolerated Samara and Rue coming closer, but the moment Brian comes toward the door frame, the little mop of dark brown hair and blue eyes hidden behind it, he— or she— retreats with the swiftness of the cat outside, and as Brian turns his head to look down the hall, the first thing he sees is a trap door clap shut behind the keeper of the house, a soiled area rug haphazardly cast aside.

Below the floorboards, a lock turns.

What kind of house has a trap door in the hallway, anyway?

A house perfect for their purposes, Rue reckons. They just… have to figure out what to do about the kid. And whoever else probably lives here. She sighs and steps into the house, sneakers squeaking faintly on the floorboards. She makes her way to the hallway, eyeing the trap door and then peers to Brian. "Maybe you should check the rest of the house?" she whispers softly.

Then she drops into a crouch by the flung-away rug. "I promise we're not here to hurt you. My name's Rue. Can you tell me your name?"

With a small frown, Sami glides into the house after Rue. There's a lightness in each individual step, even if she's supposed to be exercising some measure of caution. Her eyes focus on the trapdoor itself while she squats into a similar crouch; her lips twist to one side. "And I'm Sam— " she tacks on to Rue's introduction as she kneels beside the trap door. Her eyes trail to the trap door and then back to Brian with a semi-apologetic smile.

She straightens to a standing position and crosses her arms over her chest, each holding the opposite shoulder while her eyes clamp shut. "I'm coming down— please don't be frightened…" she calls to the person underneath the floor. With a mere thought, like turning on a switch, she becomes intangible, disappearing through the floor to whatever may await her underneath.

"Maybe you should check the rest of the house, I'm awesome with kids." Brian spits back. Foregoing the whole whisper thing however. Winters smiles as Samara goes to sink into the floor. "She's so great…" He murmurs in an adoring tone. Going to stand by where the boygirl disappeared into the ground.

Standing near the trapdoor in case the child needs to flee from a woman suddenly in hisher space. "Trapdoor. Jesus. This place is kind of awesome." Winters smiles brightly, pointing down at the trapdoor excitedly.

Rue's gentle request is met with silence, and maybe it would end there if Samara couldn't what Samara can do, sinking down through the floorboards like some sort of ghost, all long limbs and wisps of ethereal hair. Her feet touch down on stone, and she finds herself in a dry cellar that's much, much larger than it should be for a house of this size. A metal ladder leads up to the door itself, bolted shut, but more impressive than the cellar itself — cobwebs in its corners and a pile of blankets and a ratty old pillow where the child has undoubtedly been sleeping — is the rounded stone tunnel leading out of it and into darkness it would be unwise to traverse. She can hear the child's footsteps echoing away, some fifty, one hundred feet down the line.

It doesn't look like part of the city's subway system, and it doesn't smell like it either. A dropped flashlight, left behind in the child's haste, faintly illuminates the room and casts Samara's shadow across the nearest wall.

"Yeah, so great with kids you got that one to run away. You're great with kids that have a reason to trust you, Brian. Kids like girls better than boys. It's a mommy thing." Rue may be pulling a face behind her mask. Maybe. "But have it your way." She climbs to her feet and heads off down the hall with a bit of a flounce, bushy red hair bouncing against her back in time with her steps.

There's a slow breath as Sami returns to her corporeal self, a quiet sigh of relief uttered nearly every time she returns from incorporeality to wholeness. There's an even bigger sigh as she sees her own shadow, a surefire guarantee of her own physical existence. "He or she is— " she begins only to stop midsentence. Slow, careful, calculating steps drive her towards the tunnel only to stop midway to pick up the flashlight.

Wandering down deep tunnels alone doesn't seem wise and so she calls as she glides back towards the trap door, now that she'll be able to effectively find it. "I think it's a Prohibition tunnel. Like the kind we learned about in school where they made and moved liquor. I think."

She climbs up the mini ladder and opens the trapdoor, allowing her cohorts entrance into the cellar before ducking back down to examine the room itself with the kid's flashlight. "We could try to catch up to him or her.. although.. I have no idea where the tunnel leads and if I'm right, from what we learned in school, it's just a giant maze like minotaur maze~" Which may or may not be disconcerting if you believe in minotaurs. "Or a labyrinth.

Making a pbbbt sound at Rue's observation, he nods after she steps off. Turning some to face the trapdoor, Brian's lips leap into a smile as his fiancee pops through the trapdoor. "Hellooo~" He practically sings as she comes up. After she slides back down the ladder, Winters himself goes to drop down into the cellar. Which he immediately greets with a,


"This is awesome. Yeah there were definitely alcoholics up in this piece." Taking a few steps, he pulls back in order to dodge a low hanging cobweb. "This kid hasn't done a very good job of cleaning up cobwebs." Frowning some, he steps towards the maze. "Hey!" He calls out. "I'm the Lighthouse guy! You heard of the Lighthouse?" A lot of kids with families haven't. But when and if you're an orphan news travels fast. "I'm your friiieeend~"

Rue's exploration of the hallway yields what she expects it would. The house has a crawlspace instead of an attic, two bathrooms with lights that do not work and heavy glass windows that open from the inside but stick. The bedrooms, of which there are four, are a decent size, though the peeling wallpaper will need to be stripped and the closets rebuilt — if Brian and Samara took the master bedroom, the remaining three could be used for up to twelve of the children if the children shared beds and they could fit two beds in each room, set apart with one on each wall, though the ceilings are just a little too low to seriously consider bunks.

Down in the cellar, Brian's voice echoes back at him.

Rue wanders the house cautiously, eyes wide and curious. With the door in the floor of the hallway, she makes sure to knock on each of the walls in the closets, pressing one ear against them. Never know where there may be false walls for hiding things one doesn't want found. "It's clear up here!" she calls down the hall to the others.

"Pretty amazing, huh?!" Sam quips brightly as she shines the light towards the tunnel. "How awesome would that be! It's like having a little built in escape route. I mean, if we can figure out where it goes. And we could map the whole thing so the kidlets know how to get out. Well and us too." Her shoulders shrug slightly as she sidles towards Brian to squeeze his hand. "It could be really great! And I kind of like mapping things out. And maybe we could find our friend somewhere in the tunnel— "

Her chin drops as she turns the flashlight to the makeshift bed while her lips turn down into a small frown. "Poor kid. Shouldn't be staying alone.. I don't think we can catch up if he or she knows their way through— "

"Wooooww.." Brian murmurs, clinging back on Samara's hand tightly. His lips spread up brightly. "I feel bad. I'm always stealing houses from kids." Winters murmurs, bringing up his free hand to brush back his luxurious locks of curly head. Peering into the darkness he slowly whirls around eyeing the cellar. Looking at the surrounding area as if seeing things that aren't really there.

Finally he gives Samara a distracted, "Yeah.. That would be amazing. We could do drills. Are you sure it's a maze? Maybe you should.. Run through the walls? Maybe you can catch it? I feel bad."

Rue descends through the trap door to join the others, letting out a low whistle when she takes in the cellar and its tunnels. "Jackpot. This is sweet. God bless prohibition." She nods her head toward the direction the child took off in. "I'll bet there's people waiting on the other end for that kid. Whether it's more kids or… whatever. But we maybe wanna clear out of here before someone comes back through? We can come back another day, with a bigger party?"

"I.." Sami leans on her tiptoes and plants a soft kiss on Brian's cheek. "could try— " and then Rue's thought interrupts her action. "I dunno, I think he or she is probably alone. I mean," she turns her flashlight towards the blankets and pillow, "makeshift bed, right? I think the kid was staying here. Probably because he or she felt safe— and I don't mind trailing after, I could find my way back easily, I just don't even know where to start— if it's the way I think it is, the tunnel could cut any direction and I could end up just among ground. Which I guess is okay?"

"Doesn't seem like a lost boys operation." Brian concurs. "But it looks like a clever and tough kid. If he's been surviving this long like this." Brian decided the child was a he. Looking over his shoulder he smiles gently at Rue. "Come look at this. We could have like.. the best games of hide and seek here. And!" He pauses looking to Samara. "I'm sure it's safe. I don't think there is a pack of feral kids waiting to eat you. The kid will probably be fine if he's been makin' it this long. Knows how to get food and keep warm and all that.. But I hope we can find him."

Walking around the cellar slowly, he peers this way and that. "I don't want to take a bird from its nest." Winters closes his mouth for a moment. "Come on Rue, we're fine. I have a Gee You Enn," he spells out in case the little whatsit is somehow hiding near the room. "And I'm all the party you will ever need…" A beat. "I'm saying that in a real way.. Not an innuendo way. Because I really am. Seriously."

There's a quiet sigh to serve as a concession from Rue. "All right, all right. You're a one-man party, no innuendo intended." Her hands held up in surrender. "Maybe we can find some hooch down here. We could be Mister Epstein and Mister Raith's favourite people ever, right?" An unseen mischievous grin is shown by the twinkle of her eye.

Sam holds the flashlight strategically in front as she manages a lopsided smirk and takes a first step into the tunnel, causing goosebumps to form along her arms. "Right! So it's decided! Adventure Time!" With a happy little bounce like a tiny dance she turns back to Rue. "And even if motivations are different… I guess everyone has their priorities."

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