(2018-03-31) PrP: Port Angeles Blues - WORKER MEN
PrP: Port Angeles Blues - WORKER MEN
Summary: Harris and Tali investigate the site where Miller disappeared. Will they find something? They find Miller - in a manner.
Date: IC Date (2018-03-31)
Related: PrP: Port Angeles Blues - Sticks And Stones
Player Characters: Harris, Tali (Audgrim as ST)

The site of the office building is probably a bit disappointing, at first sight. For one thing… it's just not there any longer. There's a completely flat empty lot when they make their way there. There's buildings on the street, a whole block of abandoned office buildings; it's not that there's anything much wrong with the buildings but there's development plans, they're quite old (some of them over a 100 years and quite in a bad shape), and the one you two are investigating - well, that one was blown up so badly there was nothing to do but to just bulldozer the whole rubble away.

It was a very big building. It must've held hundreds of offices in its day, so the vacant lot is like 2 football fields. Perhaps encouragingly though, is that the basement part of the lot - it's still there. They've just cleared away most of the top and sealed elevator shafts and other entrances with metal doors and padlocks. Not the most secury measure, but who cares if someone enters a derelict old basement, right? Even if it's probably very hazardous due to the fact a whole building collapsed on top of it.

It's a full moon night. How appropriate. Its pale light struggle to illuminate the street here. Except for some old lampposts still having some flickering light further down the street, it'd be rather abysmal. In fact… for Tali, this reminds her a bit of a current scene. The one she saw Miller in.

Agent Haddad is already pulling out the pendulum that is always wrapped around her wrist, letting the weighted item hang straight down from her grasp on its chain. Tali grimaces at the sight of the leveled lot. "This is a lot like where I saw him, minus all the crazy shit," she notes to Harris. Her other hand has her Maglite, sweeping it around. "Let's see if I can find the pool I saw in that vision. I think that will lead us to wherever it is that Miller might be."

Jim watches as Tali works her mojo. Looking a bit burlier since he's got his kevlar on under his suit shirt. The big man sweeps his gaze up and down the be-rubbled lot, downing a long swallow from the styrofoam cup of cheap gas station coffee in his hand. "Good idea," he says to Tali's plan. He drains his coffee with a couple more big gulps before tossing the empty cup through the window of his Skylark. He leans up against the hood, crossing his arms across his chest as he watches her set to work. He looks back to the lot, once again sweeping his gaze around. After a moment, he starts to get a bit antsy. The last time he saw Tali using her gifts, it didn't seem to take this long. "I'm gonna go have a look around and see if there's anything else we might wanna look at," he says. "You find somethin', gimme a holler, okay?" So saying, the big man pushes off from his car and starts lumbering in the opposite direction Tali goes. Snapping on his own Maglight as he begins to investigate.

The place is so utterly dull. There's no life, no color, just concrete and old dust and metal pipes sticking up here and there like a big fat trap for Godzilla to fall on or something. There's no people, either - though you did see some homeless people shuffling about nearby. They avoid people like you though.

The pendulum begins swinging immediately. Steadily but surely, it will guide Tali towards one corner of the former building, and then it will stretch and point straight downwards; it'd have to be just below where she stands or near enough.

The closest padlocked iron trapdoor is about ten yards behind her. It's an elevator shaft.

Meanwhile, Harris moves about the place. Nearby buildings show signs of squatters - several padlocked or locked doors have been broken up, and windows smashed. Oddly, there's not a lot of graffiti.

Investigating all the various ways one could enter the basement suggests that the part closest to the back is the most unstable; the cement here is cracked at some places and one part is even entirely caved in - they've poured more concrete in here to avoid people from climbing down and hurting themselves. At the far back of the lot there's a rather steep slope downwards towards a creek, about 20 or so feet in total, and there are some signs of vegetation there, some weeds struggling to survive.

Tali's search has ended up near where Harris is at the back there - it seems that things are concentrated towards that side. The explosion happened here, the pool is beneath them.

It isn't quick, what Tali does, but it's sure as hell accurate. It drags on for about two hours, as the female agent follows the pull of the pendulum, but eventually she winds up near that elevator shaft. She frowns. "Hey Harris, how are you rappelling skills these days?" she asks, making her way towards the padlocked trapdoor.

Jim walks along, swinging his Maglite back and forth as he studies the rubble. Now and again, he'll kneel to examine a bit of broken masonry or some of the concrete slab. But… this place is dead as it gets. Eventually, his footsteps bring him back around full circle, to where the padlocked grate covers the elevator shaft. He looks over to Tali as she joins him. "Rapellin'?" He squats down to look down that shaft, his mustache bristling as he shines his light through the grate to get an idea of the depth. It was just a basement level, right? It can't be -that- deep. "Gotta be… fifteen some-odd years since I did any serious rock climbin'," he mutters. "Plus, do we even -have- rappellin' gear?" He straightens, looking towards the rear of the lot. That creek has perked his interest. "This pool… you know if it was standin' water? Or was it bein' fed from somewhere? Might be a way in down there in the culvert," he says, pointing with his Maglite towards the slope.

"It was standing water. If it was even water. It was dark," Talia moves to try and pick the lock on the padlock, crouching down. "But I think this might be some sort of sub-basement. The brick wasn't the same as what was above ground here. It was red. Older.

Jim looks up and around, keeping a weather eye out as Tali goes to work on the lock. "Great. Old brick. That's gonna be niiice n' sturdy. Just perfect to hold up my fat ass," he grumbles. He looks back to Tali as she seems to be having issues with the padlock. He rolls his eyes. "Hang on a sec." He turns and trots back to his Skylark. He pulls open the driver's door and leans the seat forward. He rummages around in the rear floorboards for a moment, then returns a moment later with a set of heavy bolt cutters. "Allow me," he says. He steps in and sets the cutter to the padlock. With a grunt, he pulls the jaws closed, snipping through the lock. "There we go." He bends down to pull the cut lock away, then hefts the grate up and aside.

There's a waft of stale old air coming out from beneath them as Harris swings the metal door open. The eleveator shaft is lined with aluminum and seem intact; shining a light down you can see the bottom of it. The elevator isn't there, of course - there's actually two levels below you, and the openings to both levels can also be seen. It's not an extremely long drop, but without a rope to climb it'd be pretty much impossible to get down and back up again. The good thing is that there's plenty of things to attach the rope too; iron bars that stick up from the concrete here and there, or you could just tie it to the metal doors. It's pitch black down there. And dusty. Not a soul has come down this way in the last year - no footprints at the bottom.

The dowsing pendulum tugs a little. It's still pointing the way.

Tali shines her flashlight down into the gloom, and seems relieved that it isn't an endless drop of some sort. She moves to her duffel bag and pulls out some nylon rope, securing it to the metal doors with a tight knot. "Want to go first? Or me?" she asks Harris.

It's a very simply rapell down - everything's steady and except for a rain of dust in her hair, it's just smooth sliding down. Once down at the bottom, her flashlight will reveal a corridor of concrete moving off in the direction of where her pendulum wants her to go; it looks fairly old. Older than the building that once stood above. They've reused a part of a building that was here before, when they built the office house in the 70s. It was cheaper. A nearby door reads BOILER ROOM. There's more doors further down the corridor and then it turns right and left up ahead.

Tali rappels down the shaft like they teacher in secret agent school. Her maglight sweeps the shaft with her motion, held in her teeth. When her feet are safely on the ground, she calls up to Harris, "Clear. Come on down." She covers his descent.

Jim isn't nearly as graceful. He has a lot more bulk to move. But he's a tenacious old bear. Setting his own Maglite in his teeth, he takes ahold of the rope and hauls his tubby self down, hitting the ground with a grunt. "Okay… let's see what we got here," he says once his light is back in hand.

You follow the tug of the pendulum, down past four doors - they all have signs on them; BOILER ROOM and LAUNDRY ROOM - to the left, STORAGE and STORAGE to the right side. Then the corridor comes to a T-section - one corridor leading right, the other one left. The pendulum wants you to go left. There /used/ to be doors there - but they've all been built over now. This corridor was just left because it was more trouble than not. And it ends abruptly about 10 yards in. The pendulum points straight down. The corridor leading to the right, same thing. It just ends abruptly, pendulum will point you back towards the same point.

So: Straight corridor, two rooms to the left, two to the right. Pendulum will guide you to the left at the T-section, but you can't go that way.

"It's still below us," Tali notes to Harris. "We need to find a way down. We should check some of those other rooms for stairs or access. Laundry might have something."

Jim follows dutifully alongside Tali, keeping his head on a swivel as she monitors the pendulum. His hand is never far from his jacket's lapel, just in case he needs his sidearm in a hurry. "I'm thinkin' Boiler Room myself," he says. "That's gonna have steam pipes for carryin' steam to the other parts o' the building. But… we can check Laundry first." He turns to start making his way towards the laundry room. Although, he does pause briefly. "Hey, hold up a sec," he says. He draws his Beretta and flicks the safety off with his thumb. He studies those storage rooms. "Just in case. Don't feel like puttin' up with any bullshit surprises tonight." So saying, he covers the door to the closer of the two storage rooms and goes to pull it open.

At Harris' excess of caution, Tali also draws her sidearm. She doesn't anticipate there being anyone down here, not after that explosion, but yeah, caution.

The door is pulled open… and an old broom clatters out!

Otherwise, the two storage rooms are just that - shelves, mostly empty except some old equipment nobody gave a crap about and left here. Rusty buckets, old brooms, plastic containers.

Jim skitters back as that broom comes clattering out. "-Fuck-," he snarls softly. He takes a moment to compose himself. Clearing his throat, he straightens his back. "Okay. So. Now we know." He pauses. "I -assume- they ain't gonna pull a Fantasia on us an' start haulin' buckets of water to dump in here." He's trying to lighten the tension a little. Is it working? He turns back to follow Tali into the laundry room.

"Don't even suggest that stuff. Women made out of flocks of birds, remember? Weird seems to be the catch of the day in this town, every day," Tali mutters. She moves to open the door to the laundry room while Harris provides cover.

The two Bureau agents are ATTACKED - by a very unpleasant smell of old no longer used cleaning chemicals, stale water and mouldy cloth as they enter the laundry room. It's got old metal containers on stands to do laundry in, a laundry machine that must be from the fifties and a few clothes lines along one wall, thread through hooks. There's counters lining two of the walls with cupboards and surfaces to fold laundry on. There's an area with a few iron boards attached to the wall. The peeling paint on the walls is a depressing pale yellow, the floor is tiled. There's some old sheets left rotting in a metal bucket of water in a corner. Another door leads into a small storage closet - one person can get in there and would have to back out to get back out, it's that small. Shelves line the sides, but they're empty except for some empty old metal cans. There's an old chute where laundry once came tumbling down into large containers beneath. There's still one such container there.

Harris notices an interesting thing; there's plenty of footsteps visible at the bottom of that container, right below the laundry chute. There's some disgusting sludge at the bottom of it, and it's dried up and left some very visible prints.

Jim grunts, a sardonic half-grin tugging up a corner of his mustache. "Trust me, Haddad. That's -tame- compared to some o' the shit I been dealin' with lately." He wrinkles his nose as the smell hits. "Uff. Ammonia. Tasty," he mutters. He looks around, sweeping his gaze across the laundry. "Wonder what kinda place this was that they needed a laundry room. I thought this was an office building," he muses aloud. When he comes to the chute, however, he stops dead in his tracks. "Hey. Come have a look at this," he says, beckoning Tali over. He shines his Maglite over those footprints. "These are recent. Someone's been down here."

As Tali steps inside, she pauses and simple breathes in the essence of the room, her psychometric powers spreading out to feel the room's recent history.

Tali's senses are almost assaulted with memories; she sees people in fiftie's stile clothing flickering by in meaningless menial tasks of doing laundry. The sixties come and go in a flash of imagery, same menial tasks. Every now and then there's a flash of something else, that storage room; they go in there and push open an old hidden door in the back and disappear, only to come back a bit later, with laundry in their baskets.

The seventies - that storage room isn't used anymore. They forgot about the hidden door, and what lies beneath. The old machines barely work, people complain. The room gets disused not longer after the building on top gets built. Nobody comes here anymore, for ages. Dust gathers. Paint peel.

Then she starts seeing the homeless. They come in, wrinkle their noses, and go out. But some… are more nosy than others. Three of them find the hidden door and decend. They never come back up. It's a kaleidoscope of depression.

Then, it's modern day. Through the chute tumbles first Miller and then the same pretty police woman she saw in her visions. the two shuffle about in superspeed in there, examining things; it's by chance Felicia - because it is indeed Felicia - finds the hidden door. They decide to investigate, and go down…Both of them come back up, but they look different in a way. Their eyes are dead, and they just grimly head out without talking to each other. Miller adjusts his clothes, tucking a shirt in. Felicia puts her hair up, absently. They go out into the corridor, and then BOOM! An explosion rocks the place.

It ends there. The hidden door is right there in front of her and Harris - just press the button beneath one of the shelves.

Jim watches as Tali's eyes glass over. He knows that look. He wears it himself, from time to time. He squares up his shoulders and glances back the way they came. Just in case whomever left those footprints might still be hanging around and decide to try and jump them. He's had his fill of -that- happening, too.

"There's a door here, Harris," Tali moves to the storage closet and she repeats what she saw in the past and reaches beneath the shelf to press the button. "It's been here a long time, and many, many people went through it, and never came back."

There's a click, and a complaining groan of old springs and cogs - the back of the closet swings open and reveals a red brick staircase leading down. It's pitch black.

Jim blinks as that secret door gets revealed. And frowns when Tali mentions that people go in, but don't come back. "But Miller an' Felicia did," he says as he edges closer. He peers through the door, shining his Maglite through. "An' lemme guess. That's where your pendulum is tuggin' us, right?"

"Bingo. And yeah, I am not sure they came out. When I read Miller's badge I saw him here but…not really here. Somewhere else that looks like here but isn't." Tali shakes her head. "I know that makes no sense. But either way, we need to get down there."

You walk down the brick stairs and come into a room with a distinct victorian style to it - all in red brick. It's a fairly large space with tiled floors - it must've been quite nice at some point, but colors are now faded, there's spiderwebs and dust gathering. Even so, the air is quite nice here and there's no real moisture. There's more signs of squatting here, with piles of blankets and a few coats over in a corner. There's even a few bags with items still in them. This is an even older laundry room - and it was still used in the fifties and sixties, probably because of the oddly dry and fresh air here. Good for drying wet clothing in, even after over a century.

One wall once had a large furnace, and there must've been quite a few vats here - but they're all removed. There's still copper piping attached to the walls. There's a coal shute above where once coal was poured in to keep the fire stoked - the little metal door there is rusty but intact.

The only remaining vat is a large stone tub in the center of the room, the main washing basin. It still has water in it. It's black and still, like a small lake in the middle of a forest in the fall. Exactly like in Tali's vision.

It's very dark here, but your flashlights will reveal all this easily enough when the light is played over the surfaces.

Jim sets his jaw. "Actually… I think you're right," he says. "Whatever came outta here… it wasn't them. It was those… those fuckin' -copies-. Those livin' -dolls- that the Kidnappers make. The Sticks n' Stones." He goes to follow Tali down the stairs, holding his gun at the ready. Will lead bullets harm a Keeper? Probably not. But it's still a comfort to feel the weight of the weapon in his hand. As they reach the foot of the stairs, he looks around. "Hunh. This… this actually isn't so bad. Least it ain't blood all over the walls an' hacked-up bodies everywhere. -Man-, that shit stays with ya." His gaze gets drawn to the vat in the center of the room. Stone, rather than metal. That's unusual enough in and of itself. He edges closer. "This it?" he asks, glancing towards Tali for confirmation.

"That's it. That's where I saw Miller fall in," Talia says quietly, as if normal voices would wake something up in this place. "Don't get to close. I'm not entirely sure if he fell or was dragged in there."

You both hear it - Tali more so than Harris, perhaps because she has heard it before - there's an odd buzzing sound, like that from a machine working rhytmically in a distance. There's a ripple on the pool - little waves spread out from the center, and then the water rests again. The sound disappears.

"I…don't think he was pulled in, actually," Tali announces after looking back through her memories of what she recalled off his badge. "So we should be able to inspect it." She hopes.

Jim freezes when he hears that buzzing sound. "Wait a sec. You hear that?" He furrows his brow as he tries to catch the sound. But then, it's gone. "Coulda swore I heard somethin'." He edges closer to the pool. Rising on tiptoes, he tries to get a look at the surface without leaning too far over it.

Leaning over the pool, nothing reaches out to grab Harris and pull him in - so Tali was right about that. He sees his own reflection there, almost a perfect mirror image on the black surface. And then it blurrs - and he's staring at Miller. Miller is looking back at Harris, but he's not seeing him. His eyes are still blue but starting to fade in color and his face is gray and nondescript. His once brown hair has turned into a paler version - there's some white in it. The picture pans out so Harris can see Miller sitting at a work station - he's mindlessly putting some cogs together, pushing them onto a conveyor belt, then does the same again. Over, and over, rhytmically.

He's right there, Harris. The one you're looking for. All Harris has to do is reach a hand out and grab Miller, pull him out of there and save him. It's crystal clear! Super easy! Everything will be fine, after that.

Jim's eyes get wide. "Jesus… -Miller-?" His jaw drops as he stares at that image in the pool. "My God… what's it -done- to you?" He looks up at Tali, stricken. "He's… he's right -there-. He's in the-" He cuts off in mid-sentance. "-pool…" he finishes, looking back down. His eyes go from wide to narrow, and his mustache bristles. "Oh you clever little -shit-. That's how you get 'em, isn't it? You show 'em what they want. Put it right in front of their eyes. Oh ho, -hell- no." He slowly drops to one knee by the edge of the pool—taking care not to touch the water. "Let's see if you're showin' me somethin' that's actually -real-," he growls. Now it's his turn for his gaze to go distant and his eyes to glass over as he reaches towards that image of Millar with his thoughts. If it -is- him, and not an illusion… maybe he can make contact. At least let Miller know that there's a way out. That his friends are here to help him.

Jim's eyes narrow and his jaw grinds as he encounters resistance. But he pushes through with dogged determination. Because he -is- getting close. He can feel it. And then… he's through. He's in. He lets out a grunt as his temples start to throb. =Miller!= he thought-sends. =Miller, it's Jim Harris! I'm gonna help you get outta there!=

The Working Man Miller hasn't seen Harris - but he's staring down at his work. New cog. put together. Push on conveyor belt. There's a hint of other works sitting next to him on both sides, their arms visible. That thrum, that buzzing sound of a machine is heard now too, coming through to the other side. "WORK WILL SET YOU FREE! WORK IS LIFE! HAIL THE MACHINE!" A booming monotone voice echoes in Harris' brain - the Worker Men barely react though. They just continue on, perhaps with a bit of more speed, urged on by the voice.

Miller… reacts. His hands stop moving and he looks up, staring with dull, dead and faded blue eyes into nothing. Then he blinks. Shakes his head, and goes back to working, suddenly a bit panicky - he has to catch up now. He missed it - his fingers work frantically to put cogs together faster. And then he stops again and looks up sharply, his gaze more focused. A cog clutter to the floor. "H…Harris?"

Jim's teeth grind and his face starts to turn red. This has made the big man -angry-. "No, God dammit, don't go back to—!" He's saying the words aloud, just reacting to the heartbreaking vision before him. Even the grizzled and jaded detective can't help be be moved by such bleakness and despair. Shaking his head, he focuses upon his thoughts once again. =Stand up, Miller! Stand up and walk away! Get out of there and get back to the pool! I'm right here on the other side!= he sends.

"WORKER MEN! THE MACHINE ONLY PROGRESS THROUGH YOUR HARD WORK! YOU ARE HAPPY! YOU ARE PROVIDED FOR! THE HARDER YOU WORK THE MORE MEANING YOUR LIFE WILL HAVE!" That voice booms out, regularly, reminding them of their place in this meaningless, gray life. Harris can make out that everything is colorless around Miller. There's like a haze of dust that swirls around now and then, making the whole scene dreamlike and blurry.

Miller has stopped working and this is probably not a good thing for someone who sits at a conveyor belt, with the sole purpose of… working. In a Gentry's home area. But he's staring - trying to understand. He woke up, for now anyway. "The pool is guarded. The pool is off limits. Only the Guards go to the pool," he responds, like a mantra - like this is something he is told, often. Then his gaze sets, becoming steelier. He picks up cogs again and begins working, but his gaze has hope. "I will… go home. Soon."

The image begins to fade in front of Harris' eyes.

Tali knows that look in Harris' eyes, and she waits patiently, watching him and covering him with intense eyes.

Jim leans forward, until he's almost nose-to-nose with that image in the pool. He emblazons his thoughts into the depths of Miller's mind, with every last erg of power he can wrench out of his own. =Don't listen to them! They are -lying- to you! You are Miller, PAPD Officer! You have a wife and a son! You have to come back, Miller! Whatever you have to do, -you have to come back!-" But by now, the throbbing in his temples is becoming unbearable, even for as tough an old bear as Jim himself is. With a ragged snarl, he tears himself back, his Maglite clattering to the bricks as he claps his hands to his temples, staggering away from the pool. "Oh Jesus oh -fuck-!" he gasps through gritted teeth. Agony tightens his voice, and for a moment, it's all he can do to hold himself upright.

Tali rushes over to support the other officer, hanging onto the man's shoulders to prop him up. "What is it, Harris? Talk to me." She watches the pool carefully.

Miller fades from view. The booming voice is heard echoing…."WORKER MAN 2125 - YOU HAVE DELAYED THE NEXT WORK STATION. PLEASE REPORT TO CORRECTIONAL CENTER IMMEDIATELY." So, Miller got the message. But will he ever make it out?
And the pool is just a normal black creepy pool of water in a stone tub again.

Jim looks back at the pool as he hears that fading voice. "Oh God… all those people," he whispers. He shudders. He can't help it. When he feels Tali's hands on his shoulders, he startles as if waking out of a vivid nightmare. He stares at her blankly. "It… it got 'im," he says in a very small voice. "It got 'im an'… turned 'im into one o' Them." His haunted gaze falls upon the pool once again. "I got through to 'im. I… I dunno if it'll help. But… if he can get away… if he can get -back-… then maybe… maybe we can do somethin'. We can help 'im." The Bureau may just see this as another routine kidnapping, but… for all his faults and times he's flexed the rules and regs, Jim still wears the badge. It's part of who he is. And one of the rules he's -never- flexed… you look out for the badge. There's a fellow officer on the other side of that pool. For him… it's -personal-, now.

"Is there a way we can go through, without getting stuck there ourselves? To help those people?" Tali asks. She recalls how many people she saw take that passage down over the decades it existed and grimaces.

Jim shakes his head, and immediate regrets it. "Unh!" He massages his temple with two fingertips, wincing as the pain flares up. "I… I dunno. I really don't know a whole lot about these things." He looks up and around, then gingerly reaches down to collect his Maglite. "C'mon. Let's go see if Agent Rae can tell us anything. She's pretty friendly with Them. She knows shit." He grunts again. "Plus, I need to swallow a bottle of Aleve. My head is fuckin' -killin'- me."

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