There is some brief discussion early that morning because the earthquake was definitely felt by everyone. Later in the day, when everyone is awake and sober and done fooling around, Ang asks everyone to join her at her quarters. As everyone enters, her recovered armor is in a prominent place. Natalie notices that the team leader is no longer in the high level of pain that has become the norm for her. Nonchalantly, Ang tells the group that she had this idea while she was drunk — to put on her armor and use it to perhaps alleviate the the power build-up in her body. And well… it DID do that. But it didn’t work like it used to. The earthquake was her power discharging in ways it has never done before and at levels it’s never been at.
Maddy inspects the armor and notes that it has built-in safeguards to prevent exactly that kind of explosion and the mechanisms are intact. It should have prevented it, but it didn’t. She might be able to tweak it to help lessen or ease the effect, focus it, something. Langston, of course, immediately wants blood samples. Drags Ang and Melody off to the lab. He notes an “element” in Ang’s blood — a protein marker or amino acid or something along those lines. Pre-D-Day it was there, so that’s not unusual, but according to all records, it was a LOT lower than it has been recently. The last blood test showed it very very high. Today’s shows it back down to much lower levels. Speculation on the possibilities include that it could be a waste byproduct of Ang’s Power and therefore normal for her to have in her blood and that it’s the physiological cause of the migraines (so there may be some kind of herb that we can work with to mitigate the levels so she’s not hurting so much).
While that’s happening, Eric comes looking for the group. Natalie takes the opportunity before the group gathers for him (it’s going to take them a little longer than she thought) and asks him his intentions for Maddy — because he’s coming across to her like a snake-oil salesman, and Maddy doesn’t deserve it if he’s going to be a jerk. And warns him that he better be sincere, or else she’ll do what’s necessary to protect her family. Melody wanders in at that point and catches the last of it, and she kind of has her say as well. Eric’s in the hot seat.
Once the group is able to gather in Eric’s office, he tells them that he wants to send them out on an Expedition. City View Apartments, just down the way, had a survival nut for a landlord. That’s where Eric’s been getting his stash. The earthquake last night has him alarmed that the secret room where the gear is stored — and the CAVE SYSTEM that it’s connected to under Market Street — could be in danger of collapse. So he wants the stash retrieved. These caves, he reveals, are extensive and do connect to the maintenance tunnels under Refuge Point (which means Defense needs to know about them; they are a strategic weakness). The small cache that Eric found and has already moved included some encoded noted and cases of supplies, and he knows of caches in other caves as well. Food, weapons, etc. He knows of two specific ones — one north and one south near the park. Refuge Point is already facing some shortages and this will help.
Those who’ve been in St. Louis are familiar with some of the caves. Lempe Cave/English Cave. There had always been suspicion that an entrance to this was under Benton Park or in a building on Wyoming St. On their visit to FEMA, Natalie had the forethought to grab all the maps that might be useful for use to know — mainly subway, steam, and sewer tunnel maps — and now these maps of the St. Louis underground are going to come in handy. They find a route that shaves off some of the distance.
It’s cold and snowy outside, and the group rounds up what winter gear they can manage. In the caves, there is general fungal growth on the walls, and heavy vine growth as the group moves west. There are cobblestones in strange places as they come across some places in the catacombs where new city was built atop old city or graveyards. Ang leads the way, making a path and using a communication system that everyone knows. It was very quiet for a good while but ahead in the tunnel, there was a really high-pitched sound. Nat initially sort of squeaks the word BATS, but it’s actually birds — Swiftlets. They come streaming through the tunnel like a horde of bats, though, and people fall all over themselves. Mel and Nat manage to keep their feet (they were near the back of the group). And a huge mole comes out of the darkness behind the birds. Langston manages to avoid the attack but is still stuck on the ground because it’s so hard for him to get up. It has something gross and bioluminscent covering it.
Mel fights it with a machete and chops hell out of it. Ang checks on whether it’s alone then does a pincer move with Maddy to flank Melody in the hopes that they can take it down faster together. No go. They get in one another’s way. But eventually it is in fact hacked to pulp. And the group moves on — Travel Montage!
They reach a point where the tunnel splits. The plant growth on the walls to the west looks strange and super creepy. It’s a T-intersection, but it’s not completely blocked… however the vines … blink. They have eyes. The long space behind the vines has some kind of luminescence on the walls. It’s kind of bright. Melody shines a light on the vines from about 6 feet away, and the pod that she illuminates bursts with a loud POP! It causes a chain reaction of popping pods, and seeds — not spores — are released into the air along with a loud keening sound. The group hightails it EAST very quickly, away from the seeds and vines.
Finally reaching where they believe the cave to be, they pause just outside the small tunnel that leads into it. In the quiet moment, Langston hears sound from behind the group and is reasonably certain it’s a voice. Ang stops the group and takes point, defensive positions. Langston sidles into the cave opening; the cache is still there. It’s a fairly large cave, too. Defensible of uncertain stability. The cache is on the path that appears to lead out, on the other side of a 60-70 foot depression in the ground.
Natalie slips backward with Langston. Ang coordinates the troops and then shifts to her night-vision — which flickers and dies. Just before she goes completely blind, Ang spots people from the Cult of Memory and Thought coming toward them in the darkness — wrapped in vines??