Who You Gonna Call


brynn_icon.gif joe_icon.gif lance_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Who You Gonna Call?
Synopsis A group of teenagers make plans to embark on a dangerous journey to rid the Underneath of rats.
Date June 9, 2018

Lance's Apartment

A half dozen cans of spaghettios take up residency on the kitchen counter. And there’s another half dozen cans, some raviolis and the rest beef stew, on the floor. Squeaks’ contribution has been brought, this time, to Lance’s apartment rather than what she’s deemed The Lair — that place the elder teens are working on renting from Caspian. And by the look of her ratty old backpack, left by the door with her shoes, there’s several more packages of shelf-stable foods that just haven’t made it out yet.

With the canned foods left in the kitchen, and the dried goods still in her pack, Squeaks has taken claim of a spot on the couch. If by spot, one means the entire couch. She’s small and doesn’t usually take up a lot of space. But this afternoon, she’s somehow managed a sprawl to beat all sprawls and have some part of her touching from one end of the couch to the other.

A book about ghosts is open on the floor, on top of another one that looks like it’s probably also about ghosts. Squeaks, though, isn’t reading. Something else has taken her attention. She’s marking on a sheet of paper that already has pretty precise lines on it, some heavy and others in different colors. It’s probably safe to guess that she’s updating one of her maps.

As the sole dissenting voice about adopting The Lair as their living space, Lance actually spends more time at his apartment than the others; the only reason he’s not here more is because he doesn’t want to be away from his Lighthouse siblings for very long if he can help it.

Still, he’s independent enough that he keeps the place up.

The door’s nudged open after locks are undone, and he walks in with a basket of laundry that he’s just gotten washed, kicking the door closed with his heel. “Hey kiddo,” he calls cheerfully as he carries the flimsy wicker basket towards the bedroom, “‘Sup?”

Brynn's folding clothes — Lance volunteered to run them all through washer and dryer, so Brynn's chore for the day is folding. She doesn't mind. It's not like they own very many clothes among themselves… but there's a small pile of hers, some of Lance's, some of Joe's, and even some of Squeaks' stuff. In between the last load and this one, she's just laying on the floor sketching in her sketch book. People this time — she enjoys the lines in people's faces, so having a sketch of Squeaks all intent on her own work allows Brynn to sketch the girl without interruption.

She shoots her brother a grin when he re-enters.

Joe has brought food too. He knocks on the front door with a box in his arms. It's not a huge box, but it's big enough, and it's full of canned and jarred foods. There's a healthy amount of peanut butter in there, as well as more staple foods. There's even a bag of flour in there. After knocking to let people know he's coming in he pops the door open and steps inside, closing the door behind him and hefting his box over to the kitchen counter to put it down. "Adding to the bounty it seems." He comments, glancing at the empty cans and the full ones alike. "Maps, Ninjabro." And for Brynn he signs at her if she looks up and over his way. Artist Maximus. A quick grin flashed at the others before he's unloading the box. "I got peanut butter, flour and an assortment of canned goods here. Took a bunch over to Caspian to repay him some for the food he's used. But saved some to bring over here too." Multiple bases. If Caspian's place fell they could always retreat to Lance's. Or something. Safehouse thinking on Joe's part. "How's everyone today?" He asks and signs at the group.

“Did you know,” Squeaks says as she works on putting the last several marks on her current map. “That ghosts are more active at night because there’s less electricity being used? The electricity messes with their spectral powers, so that’s why they’re not around so much in the daytime.” It’s said as a fact, as answer to Lance and Joe’s hellos, and is probably taken out of one of those books.

The paper is lowered and placed on the floor for Brynn to look over. The boys, too, when they get close enough to see. The marks show where a couple of camps were, because there’s no guarantee they’ll still be there.

“I think that’s why we didn’t find William all those times. It’s been daytime when we went into the sewers.” Not that Squeaks is suggesting they go looking for the ghost again. She’s just making the observation. “If we went when it was night, we might have found him.”

An easy smile’s flashed back to Brynn as Lance enters the bedroom and sets down the laundry basket. He washes, she folds! It’s an amicable division of labor. Stepping back out into the main room, he observes, “Well, looks like we’re good for food, for a while… good work, guys,” he approves of, stepping over to peer at the maps that Squeaks has been notating.

The mention of ghosts has him frowning a bit, “Hm. Maybe? It could be that the electricity causes issues with his disembodied form.. Or.. I mean, we know the sun also has effects on evolved powers. So that could be it too.”

Waving to Joe, Brynn's rather oblivious to what Squeaks just offered in terms of "facts" — of course, on some level she rather scoffs that William's a ghost too. Disembodied Evo? That she can wrap her head around. Ghost seems a stretch. (Yeah, because there's such a huge difference?) In any case, she leans back to watch the goings-on. Are we holding a canned food drive? Or starting to stockpile? she signs with a wary expression. Because they've all lived the food shortages… are we worried? Her gray eyes go back and forth between the boys, because until now she hadn't picked up on the idea that we might be worried.
"Didn't. Never studied ghosts beyond watching movies. Nifty though, and makes sense if you think about it. But William isn't a ghost. So I'm not sure that applies there. Though it might. Dunno though. We'll have to see. We should go in there at night though next time just to be sure." He jerks his thumb at Lance when he talks about solar effects on evolved powers. "That's right. Children of the Eclipse." He mimes a very bad old man asian accent. Squeaks will know who he's imitating. "But seriously though yeah. Sun and moon do mess with powers so there might be something to it."

Stockpile sorta. Mostly just making sure we have food. I ran into someone who needed people to run into the midwest on a supply run. Needed combat capable people to protect the goods. I signed up. Made money on it, and got paid some food too. Good gig. Might do it again sometime. Only took a week to get out there, get everything and get back, wasn't bad. This is signed, and spoken aloud for Squeaks' benefit. Mostly just making sure we're stocked on food. We struggled when we first got to the city. Having extra food means not having to struggle and not having to worry about where food is coming from. It works towards our independence.

“That’s what Zhao called us.” Squeaks twists so that she’s looking up at the boys, with her feet hanging off the back of the couch and head hanging down the front. She points a finger at Joe, and half-squints one eye as she looks at him. “I don’t know what that means, Children of the Eclipse. I’m not a ghost. And Zhao knows too much.” It’s not as much a complaint as a just plain fact.

“Stockpile.” The younger girl adds her vote in with just the one word. She already has little stashes of food that will keep for weeks hidden in their various crash pads. There’s at least two in Lance’s apartment, unless they’ve been found and eaten already.

“I guess we could go back again.” Squeaks doesn’t sound like she really likes the idea. “At night. The rats might be more active, too. Like the ghosts.” Because she believes the ghosts are a thing. Just like the monsters, the stories that were all of a sudden real when she and Lance and Brynn found those fresh bones. “But it might be a better time to find William. We also got to try and warn the other camps, so they don’t wind up as bones.”

“Who’s Zhao?” Lance finds a spot on the couch that Squeaks hasn’t covered in her research, pushing a book to one side and dropping down onto it, stretching his legs out, “The rats… we gotta figure out a better way of dealing with them so we can get down there safely. Maybe some kinda capacitor like Caspian was saying, or— I wish my sister would stop being a…” Mutter, “…and come live with us like a normal person, she’d come in way useful here.”

Brynn watches the conversation with a thoughtful frown, seeming comfortable with the explanation of the stockpile. She's totally on board. They are children of the war and post-war era — it's perfectly normal to her to stockpile food.

Children of the Eclipse is a new term for her as well, so she slants a glance at Joe, curious about the name. I definitely think before we go into those tunnels again, we should figure something else out. Mouse, isn't there someplace Above that you know of where people kinda gather sometimes? Maybe we could pass the word that way.

“Yup, that is what Zhao called us. That's why I went looking for him after the video. Figured he might know something more about what we saw. Wasn't able to find him though sadly." Joe's shoulders lift upwards in a slight shrug but his head nods to the agreement of stockpiling and again to the mention of going into the sewers at night this time. "Yeah, definitely want to warn the other homeless camps too. Don't want them to end up dead. Hopefully they're not already." A frown from Joe, his eyes settling on the floor for a moment.

"Zhao is the old asian guy we ran into in the ruins when we were looking for Eimi. And yeah, I wish your sister would stop being a pain and come live with us too. She would be super useful. Do you think you could convince her to come help? Just for a few days? Help us look for the pikachus and what not?" Joe's hands as ever are moving a mile a minute to translate for Brynn as well. He walks over and drops down onto the floor next to her, reaching a hand over to ruffle her hair. "Yeah, rubber suits or something? Maybe some firemen gear? Something to help ground you guys would be useful."

“We should also probably go in there armed and ready to deal with the rats if need be. Especially since we know they eat people. Some blades like machetes and stuff. Guns aren’t really going to help much against a swarm of rats. But fire and melee weapons will. Can’t just run around with a bunch of swords and crap though. So maybe a hatchet or two, some machetes, stuff we can call survival equipment. And protection of some kind.”

“He knows things.” Squeaks twists over as she speaks to sit right-side-up on the couch. The rest of her papers and things are pushed off to the side, piled on the floor in that space she sometimes-often uses to hide. And it allows her hands to make the words she knows. Joe or Lance will have to fill in the gaps, still, but she’s learning and getting better at signing. “He knew… what the grown-ups called me when they decided I was in trouble. And kept saying we were Children of the Eclipse.” Whatever that means.

Blue eyes bounce between Brynn and Joe when the older girl speaks in the faster Cant language. She’s picking that up, but a little slower, and relies still on the simpler translations. “I might,” Squeaks answers slowly. “At least places we can look. Maybe on Staten Island, there’s less laws there. Or outside the walls. The soup kitchens inside the walls.” Lots of places to look, but no definite answers. “And the camps in the Underneath.”

“Wow. You found an old enigmatic asian dude that talked in riddles?” Lance blinks, nonplussed, “I didn’t think that happened in real life.” If he’d ever heard of Chekov’s Gun he’d think this would become important later, but life isn’t stories. Right?

He looks at Joe at his suggestions, and pauses, “So… uh. I could maybe… see if my boss could get us a flamethrower.”

Brynn narrows her eyes on Joe, swatting him lightly when he messes with her hair. Brat. Noting Mouse's signing, she grins at the younger girl and shifts to ASL — always better to know the "real" language before the shortcuts. You didn't see that swarm — flamethrowers and swords aren't going to do a damn thing, she opines, glancing at Lance. There were dozens of them, if not hundreds. And I'm not entirely sure why they flooded over the top of us instead of attacking, except that the water was the bigger threat. But I have a feeling if we go in there and start doing that, we're gonna need like a SQUAD of people with flamethrowers, not just four of us. Plus, we're not even sure if fire would do a darn thing to them… would they just turn electrical and fry us all?

"Oh yeah. He knew Squeaks's given name." He doesn't say real name. Because Squeaks is her real name. It's the name she introduces herself by. So thus it's her real name. "He also knew who Eimi was even though I was very careful not to give any hints about her gender, powers or really anything. Just that we were looking for a friend. And yeah, he totally talked in riddles and evasions. Like he couldn't have been more stereotypical old asian zen guy. It was pretty cool." Joe grins at Lance, scooting over a bit to reach out and poke him in the knee with a finger before scooting back to sit next to Brynn.

"Nah, if they could do that Brynny then they'd have just gone electric and traveled through the water to begin with, though that would dissipate their charge potentially so… I dunno. Stuff. And things. Flamethrowers sound like a really good idea." Joe switches easily into ASL as well when Squeaks starts signing and Brynn switches to it. "You're learning well Squeakers. Good job. Sign is like most languages. You can learn all the vocab you want, but until you're actually immersed in it you'll never truly get it. Best way to learn is to do. So if you ever need to know what a word is just ask and we can fill in the gap for you. I can also work on you some more with common phrases and stuff. Like I was before I uhhh disappeared."

“Fire might.” Squeaks saw the rat swarm. And those were very, very real rats, until they turned into electricity. And then they weren’t so much real rats anymore. At least, they didn’t seem that way. “What about… that gel stuff that burns for a really long time? Or glue. We could lay out patches of glue. It would at least slow the rats down.” Her face scrunches as she thinks over those weird events again: the rats going electrical and the flushing that put them somewhere on the other side of Manhattan. “Whatever we do, we should definitely be able to defend ourselves. Especially going at night.”

Since it seems decided — even if some parties are more reluctant than others — that another trip is needed. Third time’s a charm, right?

Squeaks rubs a finger against the bridge of her nose. “What about that Samson guy that found us? He was scary to wake up and find. And he talked a lot like Zhao. I could as a million-billion questions and never get an answer.” She pauses, nose wrinkling at a thought. ”We should’ve asked him about William. Think we still could?”

“They’re still just rats,” is Lance’s argument there, “The swarm would probably take off if someone turned a flamethrown on them. Most animals do their best to get away from fire. You saw how they behaved when the water was coming - they just wanted to get away.” He grimaces, “I can try to talk to Hailey but she’s been kinda anti-social lately.”

He reaches for one of the books, “I don’t know. Maybe we should find out what he’s wanted for…? He said he was on wanted posters, and I got a really weird vibe off him. I mean, he saved us, but… I don’t know, there was something weird about him. He was creepy.”

A glance over to Squeaks, “What about what they said, places where the transients come out onto the surface for supplies and stuff?”

Creepy is a serious understatement about the homeless man, as far as Brynn is concerned. But like always, she will ultimately go where Lance leads — they are a team. No one goes alone. She leans her head on Joe's shoulder, watching the talk.

"Napalm? Yeah we totally can't get a hold of napalm. Could make our own though. I mean sort of napalm. Close enough. We'd just need a lot of bleach to do it. And it's not like we can run to the supermarket for bleach anymore. Not that I've ever, but I know how to make it." The mention of a Samson has Joe's head turning, eyes flickering to all three of them, clearly asking for some explanation of who the Samson guy is. "What they said? Who's they?" He asks, signing, his signing getting a little slower so he's not jostling Brynn's head as she rests it on his shoulder. He leans his head to the side, resting it atop hers and breathes out a long sigh, a contented sigh. He's happy to be back with his family.

“Wait, your boss? You said your boss Lance. Who is your boss? Did you already join SESA? Or do you have another job I don’t know about?” Joe knows Lance has a job he doesn’t know about, cuz he makes money doing stuff and Joe doesn’t know where it comes from, but he’s also been really good about not being nosey. Cuz Lance is a grown up ninja and can make his own decisions.

“We could probably put signs at those places,” Squeaks muses, of where the homeless people come and go from the Safe Zone. “Warnings. Maybe it will help.” She isn’t really sure it would work any better than going into the camps themselves. People have to want to move and listen to warnings, but getting warnings out is important enough to try anything.

“Samson found us near the river, and he took us… I think it was his home?” Squeaks looks at Lance and Brynn for their thoughts on where they were when they woke up. “We were really banged up bad. But we were also like a hundred miles away from here. But he just brought us to that place and said we could go, told us how to get back here.” She pauses then adds, “We had to cross the river to get back.”

“Yeah, he saved us… if it wasn’t for him, we probably would’ve all drowned,” Lance admits with a grimace, “He said that he was a wanted man, so— we didn’t tell anyone about him. He saved our lives, seemed fucked up to turn him in.” His hands move casually, echoing his words so Brynn can best understand. “It was— like on the other side of Roosevelt. It was far. It sucked getting back from there.”

He glances to Squeaks, “That’s a good idea. Near sewer entrances, street markets, that kind’ve place..” Reluctantly, then, he glances over to Joe, “I, uh. Sell guns on the side. There’s nothing illegal about it— “ A quick confirmation, “— gun laws don’t really exist anymore. She’s shady as fuck though, and I know she is into illegal shit. Smuggling and all.”

Brynn rolls her eyes. She and Lance already had that conversation. As long as he sticks to guns, she's happy. She moves to sit upright and signs, Signs are definitely a good idea — they'll reach more people than we actually can, because a lot of times word of mouth doesn't get to people. Like the ones who keep to themselves. But … I agree we're gonna have to go back down there. She sighs as she signs it. She is not looking forward to that. Sewer rats are bad enough when they're NORMAL rats. These are anything but normal.

"It's not a bad idea actually Squeaks. They might not listen or pay attention, but at least they'll have been warned then. Less on our conscious yah know?" Joe noddles his head up and down a couple of times before he huhs at the story of Samson. "Sounds like an okay guy then. I mean a lot of people are weird after the war. Maybe he saw some stuff that broke his noggin yah know? Or maybe he did some stuff that broke his noggin. A lot of that went around too. The war broke a lot of people. Well, what led up to the war, and the war itself as well."

"Well, a lot of people are wanted people. Some of our caretakers included I'm sure are still wanted. And they were definitely wanted before hand. I'd kinda like to meet this Samson guy. Maybe take him some food or something as a thank you. And yeah, we don't turn in people that help. Those are the good ones." Joe squints at Lance for a few moments. "Is her naaaame Keira?" He asks, his head tipping slightly to the side. "Cuz if it is I might have gone on one of those smuggling runs. Uhh like after she saw me fight on Staten in the arena she might have approached me to help with a supply run. And guns might be morally questionable, but they're not illegal. And since when are we beyond morally questionable stuff if it means survival?" There's a light laugh from Joe at that. The LHK's really have a twisted sense of morality.

"I mean… anyone that wants to sit it out can. I'm not going to push anyone to do something they don't wanna do. I'd be mostly safe, unless the swarm me on mass and electrocute me. But even then I dunno what kind of ampage they're putting out, so dunno if they could hurt me or not. But I totally get it if you guys don't wanna go back down there yet." A quick smile from him around at the group, and when his hands finish catching up to his mouth he just relaxes back into leaning back against his sister.

The talk of smuggling and running guns is given a passing glance. Squeaks even looks at Brynn during the exchange and shrugs. She definitely can’t say anything. Most all of her time since running away has been spent stealing and looting to survive. And it’s not really stealing when the houses are abandoned or people are dead anyway.

Like the older girl, Squeaks doesn’t seem exactly excited about going back into the sewers. Especially not at night. Still, “I’m going. We need to. William might still have answers, right? And there might be people deeper in the Underneath like that other camp that needs to be warned.” Because not everyone makes it Above regularly. “Do we start closest to where we saw the rats? For when we’re actually back in the Underneath again.”

“Heh! Yeah, that’s her. Weird girl but she pays well, mostly in food— “ That explains why the cabinets are always at least a little stocked. Lance shrugs one shoulder, “I turned her down when she wanted me to sell drugs, though.” There are lines, even if they’re more flexible than most peoples’.

“Okay,” he hums, “So we start off with the signs, then we’ll find another settlement to check out — I mean maybe not close to there, but further from the river? Everywhere we’ve been has been closer to the water.”

Of the group, Brynn seems to be the only one who's working an above-board job. And she is making actual money… however, it's not until the boys start talking about stockpiling and such that she finally moves and pulls her go-bag to her. Signing to them, We need to work out what a good exchange rate is for Caspian — I've got the rent on the building covered for awhile, I think, but I don't really know what a fair rate is. I'd been meaning to talk to you about that — whether you wanted to actually rent the place from him or if you wanted to try something with this building instead. She digs deep, releasing the bottom seam and fishing out a plastic zipped bag that she hands to Lance. It's got… a good bit more money than he might have expected. She's been selling art pieces where she can and maybe working more than he realized. And it's all in cash.

She looks a little abashed when both boys give her kind of wide eyes about the amount in the bag. What? Were it verbal, it'd be a little defensive. I was saving up to help pay things when you guys went to school or got laid up…

Brian's kids! They all stockpile in their own ways. Her way is silent and apparently lucrative enough.

"William might have answers. And he needs our help. He's one of us. He just doesn't know it yet. We need to find him, and help him. And hopefully he can help us too." Joe's tone is hopeful, but not overly so. He's trying not to get his hopes up. It's been awhile since they saw William. He might be gone, or they might never find him again. Neither are thoughts that sit well with Joe. "Honestly? I think we should go back to where we found William and work out way out from there. Move in the direction you guys saw the rats at from where we saw William.

"Oh. Yeah drugs are not okay. Especially right now? Not cool. But yeah, she offered me a good amount of food, and some cash for the supply slash smuggling run. Was a good offer." Joe tilts his head to the side just a little bit. "Everywhere has led towards the water? Hmmm odd. You'd think it would lead deeper into the sewers, not out. Interesting." Joe looks over at Brynn and puffs his cheeks out, his mouth stops moving though and he just signs for the moment.

I honestly have no idea what a fair amount is. I've never rented a place other than my shoebox and that cost me way more than it should have. But it was a place to put my stuff so… but yeah. I have no idea. We might wanna ask some of the aunts what a fair amount is. Or Colette. She'd tell us straight up without asking much in the way of questions.

He blinks at the money that's handed over from Brynn to Lance. Dang Brynny. That's good money. Uhhh I dunno. I like Caspian but… he's become a little over protective. I mean it doesn't help that we show up there all messed up on a regular basis. But… I dunno. I'm kinda leaning back towards Lance's thinking on the whole matter. Somewhere along the line Joe started talking again to make sure Squeaks was getting the gist of the conversation going on. Joe's cheeks puff out in indecision, and he looks up at Squeaks and then over to Lance and finally back to Brynn. Brian would be proud. He smirks and leans over to nudge his sister lightly with an elbow.

“That’s the market,” Squeaks says sort of distractedly. She’s thinking, and sifting through her pile of papers. She discards the first three or four, simply setting them aside after a quick look over, and sets down the next map in line. “Here. Market. And we went this way.” Her finger traces a path in the general direction she’d gone with Lance and Brynn, which roughly parallels the river.

She watches the shift in conversation to renting and resources. Those are things Squeaks understands on a basic level, you need resources to rent and somewhere there’s a balance. But what that balance is, she doesn’t know really know. But the camps she’s skirted work kind of the same way with sharing things. “I stay where you stay,” she puts in as her thoughts on the subject, shoulders popping up in a quick shrug. She decided that a while ago anyway. “And I can get more food. I help Raquelle sometimes, and he gives me foods for my work.”

“Whoa.” The zip-lock bag of cash is taken, and Lance weighs it a bit in his hands as he tries to judge how much cash is in there. Then he flashes a grin to Brynn, showing that he’s impressed without saying - or signing - a word.

“Do we know any psychometrists, or telepaths or anything that maybe could find traces of him and follow them…? He’s an astral body, I mean, that’s basically a disembodied mind,” he opines, “Maybe we should ask around the market, see if anyone’s spotted him, if he’s got a schedule? Some ghosts always go back to the same places.”

I like him, he signs then, setting down the bag in his lap, But he’s gotten a little too adult. You know? Protective and all, and he’s being way too charity too.

The quart-sized bag has a decent stack of mixed bills — if they were all 20s, he'd be holding several thousand dollars, but well… they're not quite THAT lucky. She has been working for several months, though. Brynn signs for them, looking a little abashed still, I think it's around 1400 dollars. Pearl pays by the hour, but my pictures do okay.

She ruffles Squeaks and nods immediately. Of course you do doesn't even need to be spoken. And then the petite teen looks between the boys. He's not trying to be Aetos on us — but I do think us turning to him like kids do isn't helping, Brynn admits. I don't think renting the building from him to make it what we want is off the table… but maybe asking him to … be our friend instead of trying to be a guardian would be good? She doesn't want to lose his friendship — he's a good person and he's helped the group a lot.

Joe looks over at Squeaks, blinking a few times, signing as he speaks. "Of course you're going where we stay. You're one of us Squeakers. I mean… not that you have to go where we go. But like… yeah. You're one of us." A wide grin at the younger teen before Joe puffs out a breath and flops over backwards, thinking his head off the wooden floor, then silts back upright as Lance starts talking about possible ways to find William. "I don't think Kaylee is going to go sewer roaming with us. I don’t know any other telepaths. But maybe Agent Lin knows someone? A telepath or a psycho thingy. That's the ones that look into the past by touching objects right?"

"Yeah. I like Cass too. But he's gone too adult. Over protective and what not. He's a nice guy but…" The LHK's don't want to be told what to do. Even if it's in their best interest. They've been told what to do all their lives. Hiding and skulking, moving from one safe house to another. This time is about them becoming their own people. Not just the kids from the Lighthouse. They'll always be the Lighthouse Kids. But this is about them being more than just that.

"You're right Brynn. That was our mistake. Mine and yours, not Lance's. Old behavior dies hard huh?" He leans in after he finishes signing it and bumps his shoulder against hers lightly. "We let him take care of us because it's what we're used to. But we need to take care of us. Not let other people do it. Also I have no idea what Aetos is. But no, definitely don't want to lose him as a friend. I'm not saying we cut him out, and I don't think Lance is. I think we just need to scale back a bit. Step back and assess. I can make good money working for the smuggler lady. Not money I'll be especially proud of, but good money. We can do this our way."

As the older teens continue to discuss options, Squeaks collects her maps and jumps off the couch. She steps around Joe and Brynn and leafs through the papers, putting them in some form of order.

“Maybe we could use the tank room,” Squeaks suggests as she pauses on one of those maps. “Or another place.” Said slowly, her tone suggests she might know of a some places.

The younger girl is quiet for a minute. Blue eyes bounce from the papers in hand to the wall. If she taped them up, they might have a nearly completed map. Maybe not all in the same scale, but they could see more of what makes up the Underneath. Or she could ask Brynn to make it copy, like the drawing of the rats. But instead of voicing those ideas, she changes the subject.

“Barbara says the camcorder belonged to the Company.” Not that Squeaks knows quite what that means, but she understands it’s bad people. “She saw people. But not like from the movie we watched. She didn’t say. And Eve says to not talk about what we saw, because it makes it more powerful.” She looks over at the older teens as she says that part, because she’s not sure if she believes it or not.

“The Company?” Lance sits up a bit more, his brow furrowed, “That… well, I know they were into a lot of bad stuff.” An uncertain glance to the others, then back to Squeaks, “And— Aunt Eve is— she’s sick, I think.” He shifts a bit, “I saw her recently and she just started throwing bombs at a boat. I think for fun. They started shooting back. I had to shoot someone.” He’s clearly uncomfortable with the subject, but he doesn’t keep things from them. Usually.

“So I don’t know how much we should believe from her.”

Wait, what? Brynn looks at her brothers, worried. Everyone who grew up in the Ferry knows at least a little something about the Company — a little more, perhaps, even than what came out in the trials. But now Lance is talking about shooting people?! What the hell??? She forgets in her sudden upset to use ASL. Aunt Eve has always been a little crazy, but she's seriously gone off the deep end now! Why the hell would she even get you involved in something like that??

Throwing her hands in the air, Brynn climbs to her feet to gesture more broadly, needing the space … maybe just because it's her version of shouting, which she rarely if ever does. This is crazy, you guys! None of this is supposed to be happening! We're supposed to be …. Living! Having a life that doesn't involve shooting at people! What the hell are we doing???

Joe is quick to catch on though, to what Squeaks is thinking about. "Oh totally Squeakers. I see where your brain is going. Brynn?" He asks, turning and begins to sign at her. Think you could copy Squeaks's maps up onto the wall? Give us the big picture? He does noddle his head a couple times though to Squeaks's comment. "Tank room might work. You mean as like a base of operations while searching underground? Or do you mean as a place to stay?" Joe does make a little face at what Eve said. "Yeah not sure I buy that. Aunt Eve is nuts. Maybe not talking about it is what has let it pass under the radar for so long. Nah we totally need to get the word out to more people. People need to be ready for it. Not have it hidden in the shadows. That kind of crap is what led to the war."

"And the Company were into some really bad stuff. Brian actually used to work for them, the guy who raised us. Until he realized how bad they were. Then he worked from within for awhile before leaving." There's a slow blink from Joe at Lance's statement. "Bombs at boats.. yeah. She's not right in the head. I mean she was always crazy, but jumping on a guy in the middle of a riot to go after a kid she knows is bulletproof and shanking that random guy? For absolutely no reason? Yeah… there's… she's broken."

He reaches a hand out to Brynn to squeeze her shoulder gently, then shifts up onto his knees so he can lean over and do the same for Lance. He holds them a moment, a hand gently squeezing each of them on a shoulder before he lets his arms drop and helps Squeaks gather up the maps she's made. "Okay. Lets get this on the wall. Will be way easier to look through then, and easy to have Brynn update it there when you update your maps." He rises to his feet and walks over to the wall before turning back, tucking the papers under his arm to sign back at Brynn. What needs to be done.

She isn’t entirely sure what Brynn is saying, catching only parts and pieces, but body language says enough and has Squeaks going still and silent. And just watching, eyes bouncing from Brynn to Lance to Joe and back again. If there’d been anything else about either topic, she decides against saying so now. Maybe another time, she’ll fill in the details. The important parts were already told anyway.

The remainder of the maps are given over to Joe when he comes close. As for her other thoughts, Squeaks nods first. “Like a base for… whatever. A fort. If we need to use it because… Whatever reasons. Raining or… storing things… or rats.”

I know, I know, Lance signs, grimacing, This boat of smugglers took to shore, and she just started throwing bombs. I mean, me and Joe both work with smugglers sometimes. What if one of us had been on there?

He briefly covers Joe’s hand on his shoulder, managing a smile although the subject clearly bothers him. He’s always been very good at violence, but killing?

“Hopefully the guy I shot’s okay,” he lies to himself aloud, before looking back to the other two, “Huh. Well, you said there were… rooms, right? Near the tank, where you found the camcorder?”

Brynn just shakes her head. Aunt Eve has lost what few marbles she owned… whenever it was she owned them. She has always been good to the Kids, and Brynn loves her to death. But … no. Just plain no. She blows out a breath and calms herself — she doesn't like to get that upset about things. It makes it hard to focus. With a frown, she moves to help Squeaks with her drawings. They're pretty good, for all that Mouse is working from memory and not a mapmaker either. Brynn can tell which ones go together and she rummages around in one of the kitchen drawers to come back with push pins to start laying the maps out on the wall.

It's gonna look like Brian's office wall with the layout of the compound in Canada by the time they're done in here.

"Sounds like a plan. Set it up as a safe house essentially." Joe's head noddles up and down a few times to the idea that Squeaks has put forwards. "We can stock it up, though we'll want to hide anything we put down there in case someone else happens to wander into that area. And eventually the government will reclaim that. Eventually. Probably years off though." Joe reaches a hand out to ruffle Squeak's hair before he starts holding up map sections to the wall. "Nah, just like… copy the map sections. Then Squeaks still has her maps that she can update, and we have a big copy on the wall." Joe's hands moving with his mouth as ever. ##1E90FF|Can you like… copy them? Onto the wall with your power? I can hold up a section and you just… recreate it on the wall? Or would it be easier to do with all of them pinned up?" He waits for her response before looking back at Lance and nodding his head to what the other kid signs.

"Yeah, she could have blown one of us up. Or someone else we know. Could have blown herself up. Where the heck did she get materials to make bombs anyway? Someone needs to go into her brain and try and fix it." There's a slight eyeroll from him, but he does nod a little bit at Lance's question about rooms. "Underground lair?" He asks with a bright grin. "Ninja Turtles style. Heck if there's enough room we could take in others too. If you're cool with it Squeakers. You found the place, so it's your call." Joe will hold up pictures for Brynn to copy, or help her pin them up, whichever she choosed to do.

“Yes,” Squeaks answers Lance with a nod. “There’s some rooms.” She didn’t explore too deeply to know how many or what state — finding that camcorder kind of overshadowed all other thoughts at the time — but the place with the tank did have some rooms and space and plenty of places to hide. She looks up when Brynn comes back to the wall with push pins, and skitters out of the way of the wall. Her arms go around herself in a kind of self hug, gaze going to from Brynn and Joe to the wall, then to Lance.

“When do we go back,” the younger girl asks. It’s an attempt to turn the conversation away from Eve. “To find William, or the rats’ hive?”

“We need to get some better gear, and figure out how to deal with the rats first,” Lance says firmly, “I’m not going back in there just to get eaten. We got lucky last time, with the flush… we might not this time. I’ll talk to Key about getting us some flamethrowers or something, maybe there’s some kind of anti-rat pheromone? I don’t know, we should hit the library, investigate everything about rats. Talk to Caspian about that capacitor thing in case they go lightning.” He pauses, “Rubber suits? Or something?”

Oh! Brynn looks embarrassed that she didn't tweak onto what they meant. Well…. Okay. Just means she has to remove the massive mural on the wall. She'll have to redo it later. Planting her hand on the wall that contains the realistic full-wall-length landscape of the Canadian home they all left, it starts basically erasing itself, wall-white color starting from her hand and then swooshing outward like a puddle. She has to walk the length of the wall to get the whole thing, top to bottom, but it takes barely seconds. Then she stops next to Squeaks and peers at the maps, choosing the one she wants to make the start point based on her mental map of the region itself. Marking the map as it appears on the sheet onto the wall isn't hard, it's just detail-oriented and requires her full attention.

Squeaks gets a real hug from a not self, Joe stepping over to wrap her up in a quick tight hug before he goes back to the wall, holding up sheets of paper for Brynn to copy onto the wall. "Soon." He responds back to Squeaks. "Just need to gather… yeah that." He gestures in Lance's direction. "Well the better gear part. The rats well… we might not be able to come up with a way to deal with the rats. And I suggested firemen gear. It's all rubber. And super heavy but hey, all rubber and stuff. And thick enough that it's practically armor. Dunno where we'd get firemen gear though." Joe's shoulders pop upwards in a quick shrug before he goes back to holding up pictures for Brynn to copy onto the wall so they can get a full sized sewer map.

"Squeakers I don't know which all go where so uhhh…" He beckons her over to the wall to help organize the map parts. "You come do this. I'm going to go lounge on the couch and be lazy." And if Squeaks goes over there that's just what he'll do, walk over to the couch and settle onto it, lounging back against the arm of the couch, so he's taking up more than his fair share of the couch, but leaving Lance enough room to sit, with the occasional nudge here or there from a Joe foot just to pester his brother. Aren’t siblings great?

“So we need to gear up. We need to figure out an exact route through the sewers we’re going to follow. Need to also go scout out the tank slash camcorder place as a potential LHK base until such time as the government remembers it’s there and tries to reclaim it. I also really would like to take something to that Samson guy who saved you guys as a thank you. So we’ve got quite the task list.” He’s not signing for once, since Brynn is busy with the wall she wouldn’t be paying attention anyways. His eyes have closed and he’s just yammering aloud on auto pilot now.

“Brynn and I can go…” Squeaks’ offer is interrupted by a surprise Joe-hug. She blinks up at him, not upset just a little confused. Hugs you aren’t expecting are kind of weird for her still, but she doesn’t think on it too much. She takes the papers instead with a nod. “Brynn and I can go to the library. If she wants to go?” It’s an invitation for sure, even if the older girl can’t hear her. The younger girl’s face is asking.

The maps are offered one at a time, in an order that makes little sense to a casual look. Or to anyone not really familiar with the tunnel system that makes up the Underneath.

“I think the library’s got internet, kind of— like, you can use cellular ‘net from there, it’s just shit,” Lance suggests, scratching at his chin, “Maybe you can look up ‘Samson’ and ‘crime’ and see if you get any hits? Before we go back to that guy I want to— know more about who he is. If we ask directly, though, they’ll know we met him. And if he’s just wanted, for like, having the most parking tickets in Queens ever handed out, I don’t want to rat him out, y’know?”

He brings a hand up to wave in Brynn’s periphery to get her attention, and when she looks over he signs, Mouse wants to go to the library with you to do research.

Then he’s looking to Joe, “We’ll go talk to Key. I’m betting that she can get us some gear, for the right price.”

Brynn glances toward Lance when he waves like that and nods, looking at Squeaks with a grin. Sure, Mouse. We can go whenever you want. She isn't sure about joining them on the next sewer run — she really hates rats. But then again… when has she ever backed out of shenanigans? (Never.) She's content for this moment, though, to keep just working on the map on the wall. Drawing it and making it look right soothes her.

Where as the LHK's have lived in close contact most of their lives, so hugs are an everyday occurence. So since Squeaks is confused? Joe holds the hug a bit longer before letting her go and claiming her spot on the couch. Yay comfy. "You'll get used to us Squeakers. I promise." A wide grin at the former street rat and fellow orphan as he lounges in her spot. "Oh, that's a good idea. Checking on Samson. But at the same time… judge him fair. Cuz I mean most of our caretakers were wanted. Most of them are legit now but not everyone came in from the cold yah know? So don't judge harsh. But we should definitely look him up so we have an idea of what we're dealing with."

There's a quick nod from Joe, his head bobbling up and down a couple times before he flops it backwards onto the arm of the couch. "We could probably get gear from Key yeah. But it'll cost us. I mean probably not directly, just promises that we'll help with some more stuff. She wants me to help with the food sales for the stuff I helped bring back. Like she said cashier but what she means is bulletproof security guy who is pretending to be a cashier. Not that I can complain though. And we could use the money. And it's food that people don’t have available to them anyway so… I dunno. It's morally grey. Not happy about it, but it's a way to make money on something that's only a little messed up in the scope of everything."

Hugs are weird. And confusing. But Squeaks doesn’t complain, or fight it. She just lets it happen. Brynn’s answer gets a grin, sort of shy but she’s definitely excited that the older girl will go too.

And as Joe and Lance go on about plans, Squeaks contents herself to listen and help with keeping the maps in order. Occasionally she pauses to translate a thing for Brynn, the things that sound like they’re important and everyone should know — and some of those signs are probably made up on the spot, more miming than actual words, because she’s learning still! — but mostly she’s just listening to the boys talk.

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