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Old Feb 27th, 2021, 10:04 AM
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Episode 1: Down & Out

Welcome to Episode 1: Down & Out
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DMing: Cold Case Crew - Where four recent college grads get dumped into fantasy land while podcasting about a decade-old missing person case.
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Last edited by NightCheese; Feb 27th, 2021 at 09:00 PM.
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Old Feb 27th, 2021, 08:58 PM
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Outside of Outskirts
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It's mid- morning, and the four members of Cold Case Crew are on their way to the state park - Susanna Lemonstraps last known location. As they set out, Benny tosses an aux cable to the front seats, bypassing Sydney's usual choice of show tunes. Time for something to set the mood a little better than a tenth round of the Hamilton soundtrack.

Mesas and canyons make equal cuts in and out of the landscape as the Jeep keeps pace with Morales' Firebird. After an hour so, the two cars turn right onto a dirt road, plumes of dirt and sand making clouds in their wake. After another five miles or so, the firebird circles around and parks. If it weren't for the large white and red sign reading "PARKING AREA," the crew would have driven right by it.

Hot, dry air stings like a slap to the face as they exit the vehicles. It's early June in New Mexico, and late morning the sun is already high and hot.


Should he stay or should he go?
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Morales kicks his door shut with the heel of his boot and leans against the side of the car, arms folded, as the group unloads. He drops a worn, canvas army backpack at his feet, his last name sewn into a patch on the front. "Walp, ya'll ready to do this thing?The four members of Cold Case Crew make their way to him, looking more like a pack of cub scouts on their first overnight campout than a band of adventurers.

The sheriff does not wait for an answer and begins to lead the group down a narrow dirt path. It weaves and bobs between catcus and scrubby grasses, patchworked in the gray dirt. The ground is dry and makes an abrasive crunch beneath each step of their boots. "Find anything interesting on your interviews? Word gets around fast in Outskirts. Crenshaw called my office and made it known you kids were stirrin' up trouble. He's one to talk."

As they walk, the group fills in Morales on their findings. He said it's in tune with interviews he's read, but that it was the first time Crenshaw had admitted to knowing anything about the events between Susanna and Crenshaw's acquaintance. Morales shares that he's new to town himself, and just arrived one year ago. He heard about Susanna's case from locals and dug into it to learn everything he could. "Tried to get Lemonstrap's phone back and give it a gander myself, but no luck. The staties wouldn't turn it over. 'Sealed evidence,' or somethin'."

After 15 minutes of walking, the path comes to the base of a mesa, dotted with small caves. Beyond this, tall mountains rose from the desert ground with little warning. They loomed over the landscape as if to keep watch over the area. Morales points to a section of the mountains, about 200 yards out, at the base. A series of cave openings dots the bottom, like pieces dropped first into a game of Connect Four. [

"That's it, there. The big one on the left. That's the last place Lemonstrap was seen. She was headed out that way as a group of hikers were headed in."


OOCThe group has the option to ask Morales to accompany you into the caves or not. If you choose to do so, someone needs to roll persuasion, then RP the request. You can pick whoever you like.
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Last edited by NightCheese; Feb 27th, 2021 at 09:01 PM.
  #3  
Old Mar 1st, 2021, 08:23 AM
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”Before the Caves Take Us…”
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The bright blue sky and wave of dry heat caused Sydney to pause as she took in the reality and weight of her real job with the Crew - to ensure everyone survives a simple outing to random caves in a desert-scrub environment that, to most city folk, could be considered potentially hostile. Many potential hazards within such an environment could be mediated with thoughtful planning - water, sunscreen, boots, not stepping on rattlesnakes or fire ant hills, or by not poking random things that could be housing a venomous spider or scorpion - though painful, will not kill a healthy person outright. Except for the snakes, which can, more or less, be avoided. Mountain lions. Africanized bees. There would be reports Selena would have found, or giant weather-worn warning signs would be standing tall for all visitors to see. These are my friends. People go out here all of the time without issue. Panic is the enemy of any EMT. Just put the worry in a box. Be watchful. Don’t let anyone know you’re nervous...concerned. Because everything will be fine. Is fine. Stupid jitters.

The surprisingly quiet blonde took her peach-colored baseball cap out of the Jeep and adjusted it on her head, pulling her ponytail through the back. As she watched and listened to the Crew as they prepared, Syd primped; her loose white linen button-up long-sleeved overshirt was quickly straightened out (Wrinkles!) over an ocean blue sleeveless top. She tugged on the bottom of her faded jeans so they draped over her new hiking boots. Pepperspray in one pocket. Multi-tool in the other. Ditto for her pink shimmer lip balm. The compass was removed from the duffle’s strap and she held it out, dangling from her finger. “Anyone want to keep track of the direction we’ll be going in?”
Everything is in order. Everything is fine. With a reassuring smile to her companions, she added cheerily. ”We got this, Crew. Maybe we should get a good 5 minutes of video heading out into the desert for the audience. Cade, no selfies with the fauna, please.” She gives Benny a meaningful look, as though he has any control over the talent once Cade gets into the ‘entertainment zone’.

Syd temporarily packed away the unicorn glitter and merriness for the moment as she heaved the Army duffle over her shoulder, adjusted the strap for even distribution and comfort, and followed the narrow dusty trail from behind, unless someone wanted her upfront.

The sheriff does not wait for an answer and begins to lead the group down a narrow dirt path. It weaves and bobs between cactus and scrubby grasses, patchworked in the gray dirt. The ground is dry and makes an abrasive crunch beneath each step of their boots. "Find anything interesting on your interviews? Word gets around fast in Outskirts. Crenshaw called my office and made it known you kids were stirrin' up trouble. He's one to talk."

“Crenshaw seemed ...on edge, even after all of this time. He just got lucky back then, I bet. I wonder if law enforcement ever kept tabs on his friends’ alleged activities.” Syd responded in a tempered tone, not wanting to come across as too confrontational or too curious. Her gaze moved from Morales, to the Crew and casually up to the blue sky above where she watched a hawk drift on the thermals. The pre-med 20-nothing ‘camper’ sighed and shrugged lightly, holding in her disgust of Crenshaw and his ‘alleged’ assaulting friend. Why would a guy like Crenshaw call a cop about us. Or call law enforcement up at all. He may feel threatened by us. Weird. Maybe he was warning Officer Morales that something could happen to us if we continue to stir up ‘trouble’?

To push back these thoughts, Syd decidedly poked whichever Crew member was lucky enough to walk in front of her with a gentle jab of her finger. "Fun fact - the whiptail lizards out here are an all female species.” She grinned happily at her fun fact, because that’s pretty damn cool. During the 15 minute walk, she continued with short little ‘fun facts’ or pointed out lizards, velvet ants, and seemed quite upbeat, now that she’d distracted herself, ”Is that a cloud sulphur or an orange sulphur butterfly perched on Cade’s head? Where’s the camera?”

After 15 minutes of walking, the path comes to the base of a mesa, dotted with small caves. Beyond this, tall mountains rose from the desert ground with little warning. They loomed over the landscape as if to keep watch over the area. Morales points to a section of the mountains, about 200 yards out, at the base. A series of cave openings dots the bottom, like pieces dropped first into a game of Connect Four. "That's it, there. The big one on the left. That's the last place Lemonstrap was seen. She was headed out that way as a group of hikers were headed in."

Sydney’s doe-brown eyes took in the majesty of the mesa and these guardian-like mountains as she stood between her friends, thumb hooked around the thick strap of her duffle. The parched air, the quiet, and how little one could feel in the wide open range of the scrubland took her voice away as her gaze moved to each jagged cave entrance - a dark hollowness that could hold anything. Bats or bones. She started to bite at her pink painted lower lip before she rolled her shoulders back, readjusting the bag strap. ”Ancient volcanic land. Basalt. Iron. Manganese.” Perhaps Syd is summoning up bare basic science to crush any hesitation she may feel at the moment. She quickly looked to Selena and then to Cade, and the one she expects to be bravest of all, Benny. Turning to Officer Morales, she asked with a new-found smile that brightened her voice. ”By the way, since you’ve been around these parts, have you heard of any petroglyphs being found in any of these caves by the locals? Susanna, being an artist, may have heard about them and came out here to find them.” Normally, she would pelt a variety of safety-related questions to a guide that was going to let them loose in this ..park. Bears? Mountain lions? Fissures? La chupacabra? But, speaking aloud this list of concerns would dampen the Crew’s spirits, she believed. It’s her ‘job’, afterall, to have multiple plans. Research was done. This is it. Now they try to find out what happened to Susanna, even if that meant finding her remains picked clean by time (and scavengers, insects, and so forth).

Steeling her mind to this, Syd smiled excitedly at her friends, determination in her eyes, and stated. “I’m ready to do this. We can try the suggested cave first, but if the hikers were incorrect in their assumption, we should be prepared to explore the next cave over as well. Does that sound reasonable?” Looking at the group, pride wells up in her. They’re going to try to bring closure to this mystery, and that’s important to Susanna’s family and friends. She tried to place a hand on Selena’s shoulder in a supportive manner, trying to be comforting in this scary, but exciting, adventure. ”Maybe we can get this case put to rest.” Syd said quietly with hope in her voice.
  #4  
Old Mar 1st, 2021, 12:18 PM
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Cade

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There was a boat load more of nothingness as the crew drove towards Susanna's last known location. Cade fidgeted in his seat and in a last desperate attempt to stave off boredom began to go through the pics on his phone that Benny took of him yesterday. "No, no, yea, possibly, what do you think of this one?" He shoved his phone into the face of whoever happened to be closest. "I'll come back to that one." He quickly pulled his phone back. Once he cycled through the photos he shoved his phone in his pocket and stared out the window again. Cade thought that things might improve after the long drive but the wall of hot air that hit him as he opened the door killed that idea.

"People come walking out here for fun?" He asked as he forced himself to get out of the airconditioned car with a grunt. Officer Morales had already begun questioning about them being prepared to go before Cade got his bag out of the trunk. The police officer had started marching off and Cade trailed behind for a bit as he covered himself in sunscreen. "Bro, slow up. I'm fifty shades of pale. I'll explode into flames if I don't get this stuff on first." he shouted up ahead of him. "And since when is taking a few pics stirring up trouble? Unless you mean that alien dude. He seemed pretty upset. You guys get a lot of UFO stuff out here?"

Once he was all set Cade hurried to catch up to front of the pack. Syd was getting all hyped up on the local wildlife.
"So if those lizards are all chicks how do they have babies and not go extinct out here?" As the last word left his mouth something landed on his head much to the delight of Syd and his chagrin. He settled down once she told him it wasn't poisonous.

"Benny I know you got an image to maintain but all black again? Not smart when it's like five million degrees. You're gonna wish you bought that shirt I told you to yesterday. I'm telling you you would have turned heads and have been cooler today."

Once the cave came in view Cade got ready for show time. "Alright, let's do this. We shouldn't go too far Syd. Maybe one over but that's about it. I hope you're right. If we can put this to rest and give peace of mind to some people having the sun literally two feet from my face will be worth it."

Cade walked up to officer Morales. "Hey listen, I know you're not eager to go on a hike with us and that's cool you don't have to come. But I mean letting a bunch youngsters wander in without a way to defend themselves wouldn't be right you know. Maybe you'd let us Persuade 16borrow your gun, taser or anything else you might have tucked away?" Cade threw him his puppy dog eyes. "You get to go relax and we get to stay safe everyone wins! Oh and by the way since some people might pass through here I'm gonna give you one these." He pulls his head shot of the folder in his bag. "It's got my contact info on it. You get some movie or tv folks out here you think of me ok?"










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Last edited by Anael; Mar 1st, 2021 at 12:23 PM.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2021, 05:56 PM
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Benny Romero
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Benny pops the AUX cable out of the iPod and tosses it into the center console. He grabs his earbuds and winds them around the iPod, then jams the whole bundle into his pocket before heaving himself out of the Jeep and into the sweltering heat. Benny's back and underarms are soaked before he even finishes unloading the sound equipment. Oh well, he thinks. After spending every weekend in college schlepping amps and instruments in and out of bars for his friends, Benny is used to being sweaty on the job. Such is the life of a roadie, he snorts. After so much talking, planning, and agonizing, it feels really good to be doing the actual work of this project. Benny slings the last bag over his shoulder with a grunt. "Who's ready to go die in a cave-in?"

Before they depart the parking area, Syd suggests they keep track of their direction. "I got this." Benny volunteers to play navigator and accepts her compass, spinning the degree dial experimentally. "I was in the Cub Scouts. Hated every minute of it, but my folks made me and all my brothers do it for years. Till Daniel set a tent on fire, anyways." He shifts the gear bags around on his shoulders so that he can reach Morales' map, folded inside his vest pocket. Benny spreads the map out on the hood of the Jeep and lays the compass on top. "Alright." Squinting, he spins the compass housing a few degrees from north. "Magnetic declination. Cool." Then he aligns the compass baseplate with the map's meridian lines, and, placing his hands on opposite corners of the map, spins the paper and compass together until the compass needle is boxed in the orienting arrow. "Red in the shed," he mutters. Benny plucks a Sharpie from one of the gear bags at his hip and makes a dot on the map. "This is us. Not sure how helpful this is gonna be," he admits, "since the map doesn't show anything about what's inside the caves. Can't hurt, I guess." He stows the map and marker where they can be easily reached later.

Despite what Officer Morales said about GPS, Benny pulls his phone out of his pocket, just to check. His heart sinks a little when he sees there's no service at all. Wait a minute. He flips through the menus to carrier settings - nothing. Well, it took longer than I thought, he sighs. His mother must have finally realized that Benny was still on their family plan and cancelled his line. It was safe to assume, then, that the intervening weeks since his dramatic departure had done little to temper her disapproval. Benny pockets the cell out of habit, but then realizes he doesn't actually need it - he's already carrying an iPod with gigs of music and a big DSLR camera. He pops the passenger door of the Jeep and tosses his phone in the storage pocket where it can't be seen from the outside. Don't need someone busting out Syd's windows for a busted POS phone.

All their prep complete, the crew falls in line behind Morales, who unceremoniously quits the parking area and strides off into the desert with barely a word of warning. As they hike, the cop grills them about their project and Syd interjects the odd "fun fact" about the local flora and fauna. It might be the heat, or the thing with his phone, but after just a few minutes of walking, Benny is zoned out. A thought keeps nagging at him, repeating on loop, like a mantra in time with his footfalls: What if we don't find anything? If he was being honest, Benny thought the odds were probably pretty close to zero. He'd seen enough true crime documentaries to know that the police could miss a dead body, especially if different departments were working in opposition to one another, but there were Susanna's friends and family, other hikers - somebody should have found her. And if nobody had already, she was probably well-and-truly, all-evidence-destroyed kinds of gone. What would they do if this whole Scooby-Doo thing was a total bust? Benny shakes his head, banishing the thought. He just hopes, should worse come to worst, that they'll be able to cobble together enough decent audio to make a halfway-interesting podcast despite having solved nothing.

A jab from Cade finally breaks him out of his reverie. Cade's not wrong; it's hot as hell under all that black denim, plus the 50-some pounds of gear to boot. Benny's drenched with perspiration, and he's starting to suck wind, but he'd rather die of exposure than wear whatever clothing Cade was trying to foist on him. "What's wrong with this?" Benny asks, slapping the desert dust from his black Danzig t-shirt. He grabs a fistful of hem in each hand, pulling the front of the shirt taut so he can inspect the graphic - a huge white skull with fangs and curved horns. "Come to think of it," he says, "this shirt probably has more white on it than any other article of clothing I own." Benny tugs a black bandana from his back pocket and unfurls it with a snap. "Appreciate the concern, though, hermano." With a practiced motion he pinches a corner of the bandana in each hand and twirls it into a headband, which he uses to cinch down his long, black hair, Rambo-style. "See? No sweat," he quips, wiping his shining brow with a forearm.

After what feels like a long 15 minutes, the crew comes up short against the steep base of a mesa. Morales makes like he's going to leave, but Cade stops him. Benny is sipping on his water bottle when Cade asks the officer for his gun. Benny gags a little trying not to spray Syd and Selena with a spit-take. Hacking, Benny loops an arm around Cade's shoulders and pulls him a step away from Morales for a sidebar. His coughing fit subsides, and he clears his throat loudly. "Cade, it's becoming apparent to me that you have not had many run-ins with local law enforcement back home. I can tell you that, in my experience, 'Pretty please sir, may I have your gun?' doesn't usually fly." He gives Cade's shoulder a squeeze. "Let's all just be glad Officer Cool Guy's not trying to come with us and let the man keep his gun." Cade turns back to Morales. "Sorry dude," he apologizes, "this young man's super-cool safari hat is clearly restricting circulation to his brain. We'll show ourselves out."

Benny starts walking decisively toward the cave entrance. Mid-stride he turns, walking backwards and calling to the others, "We doin' this, or what?"
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  #6  
Old Mar 3rd, 2021, 08:13 PM
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Selena Rogers
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Selena had prepared her bag the night before, she had doublechecked the packing list, and made sure she was prepared to go "bright and early" the next morning. But when the alarm had sounded she almost wished that she could pretend she wasn't there... 'Why am I so nervous? I've checked everything, and Syd's checked everything, and... I've got this! so get your lazy butt out of bed Young Lady!' As she rose from the adequately comfortable motel bed, she saw the ring she had laid out on the bedside nightstand, a small diamond standing regally over a band of white gold, a graduation gift from her Granny. Placing it on her finger made her feel closer to her family, yet so far away that she had to check the tears threatening to well in her eyes. "I'm scared Gran...but I don't know why? What am I so afraid of?" She whispered to herself, praying that Syd hadn't heard. The entire car ride, as everyone around her had joked and conversed amongst themselves. Selena had remained somewhat aloof, staring out the window, and psychoanalyzing her thoughts, in an attempt to see if she could find what was different about today. But she couldn't think of anything.

"I hope we don't come across any snakes, with me and my bare legs..." she had mentioned to Benny, placing a hand on his shoulder before quickly removing it due to the unexpected dampness of his shirt. She had hoped to get a reaction from him as he unloaded the car at the rest spot, but if he had noticed her exposed skin, he hadn't really reacted to it. She watched him with wonder, as he expertly 'did his thing' with the map and compass splayed out upon the hood of the car. 'Well aren't you just FULL of surprises Mr. Romero' she commented to herself.

She had decided to wear what she considered a cute combination; a beret, and long flowy blouse, coupled with hiking boots, and finally a short skirt to finish off the ensemble. Great for mitigating the heat, while keeping the sun off her head, arms and shoulders, but not so good against any desert crawlies that could strike above the ankle it appeared. As they headed into the unknown, Selena kept to the back. Walking behind the others, and occasionally checking her notebook for anything interesting about the nearby locations she had thought to write down; or perhaps to note some of Syd's "fun facts" for later. "Hey maybe these Fun Facts could be a segment on the show? I'm sure someone out there cares about the air speed on an unladen swallow.." She called towards the group as she looked up from her book. Noticing for the first time that the group stopped, and that Cade had leaned in and was talking to Officer Morales. After a few seconds, Benny stepped in, and lead Cade into the caves, giving her the opportunity to catch up to Syd, and noticing the perplexed look on her face, ask "We going with the boys? Is that cop coming too? What'd I miss?"
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Old Mar 4th, 2021, 02:33 AM
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”Before the Caves Take Us…”
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Sydney’s morning was a blur of getting ready between slipping out of bed quietly, not bouncing about to wake the sleepy red-head (she can be merciful), and focusing on shower-clothes-can-of-coffee-hair-coffee-make-up-change-of-clothes and another sip of her cold brew coffee. There’s a rhythm to what most would think was chaos, but it’s simply a routine. She’s ridiculously predictable once the pattern is understood.

To anyone who has been around her would know Syd picks up on the small nuances of a person, of their mood; it’s just that she doesn’t find a need to always say something, or to push or pry. But she does pay attention because her heart is big, and more often than not, she can feel small in the scheme of the world, be it one’s personal world or the one at large. Does she always make a positive difference if she says something? Hopefully, but people are complex, and strong, and vulnerable, all at the same time.

So, the bubbly blonde offered her best friend comforting smiles, inclusion when the discussion was appropriate, like, ”Cade, the lizards use Parthenogenesis - Greek for virgin creation.” Before going all Bio major on the future face of TV, Syd eyes Selena questioningly before she explains to Cade in non-science-speech. “The embr-oh...the, um...the cells split by themselves without...male participation…sperm?” Knowing he’s probably paying more attention to Benny, who has the equipment, and the foreboding cave, Syd just gives this crooked smile and murmurs towards Selena. “I tried." And then she looks over at Benny, and says loudly. “Benny! Hey! Explain to Cade what asexual reproduction is.” I shouldn’t poke fun at them, but maybe Selena will at least smile.

The weight of the Army duffle is shifted to Syd’s other shoulder as she walks over to Selena in front of the designated cave that the boys are preparing to bring equipment into. If only they had nightvision. At her friend’s question, of ”What’d I miss?”, Syd gives her one of those half-smiles that isn’t intended to cover any mild concern she has. She dumps the duffle at her side, scorpions be damned, and embraces her in a hug and says in a quiet voice. ”We’ll be careful and methodical.” The blonde pulls away and crinkles her nose in a cute manner as she smiles at Selena. “If we find remains, or tarot cards, or Susanna’s art supplies, then we achieved what we set out to achieve. It’s normal to be scared. I’m scared, but I’m working on getting into the right kinda headspace I need to be in for this. Those two are also scared. If something goes sideways, then it does, and we push through. If there’s a bear, we back the hell away. If someone is knocked over by a little brown bat, there are ways to control bleeding. Just know...you're not alone.” Syd pauses, hoping she's said something right or comforting. Her gaze drifts towards the dark cave to curiously watch the going-on’s for a moment. Cade seems to be fussing with his shades between the sun beaming down on him, and the artificial light that is getting tested. With a slight shake of her head at whatever they are doing, she turns her attention back to Selena. ”I promise once we’re done here, we’ll...or you can go wherever you want. You can have the Jeep. Or I’ll drive. If you just want to go home, I’ll make ice cream for dinner every night. Bacon ice cream, with Shire-stone sprinkles and ..Butterbeer.” She is definitely trying!

”I’m not so sure we’re going to follow them, though.” Syd hauls up her duffle again, examining it for scorpions and who knows what before she slings it over her head and onto her shoulder. Adjusting the brim of her cap, she squints one eye as she looks over at the boys. ”Safety first. There are rulez so we all walk out of here without twisted ankles, and bats attached to your faces. No walking backwards to talk to the camera. You will know where you are stepping at all times just in case there’s a miner’s pit or dug-up grave. ‘K? We’re going to go in a few feet ahead to get a look at the ground and walls, to point anything out that doesn’t look as though it belongs in a cave. Granted, bones belong in caves, but you know what I mean. Right?” The blonde medic is down to business now, turning her hat about so the bill covers her ponytail. This is her semi-tom-boy-ish-look. With a smile towards Selena, she says. “Was that too bossypants? By the way, fun fact..you look adorbs.

On that note, she raises a questioning brow at Morales, just in case he has any last words of encouragement. Or if he’s going to just taser Cade for handing him the headshot and asking for his gun.
  #8  
Old Mar 5th, 2021, 08:32 PM
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Adios, Morales
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"By the way, since you’ve been around these parts, have you heard of any petroglyphs being found in any of these caves by the locals?”


“Y’all must’ve seen the flyers around town for the tours, same one Electra mentionedright? It’s pretty much the only reason tourists come here... to see the cave drawings. Or to look for some gate or something. I’ve never been but I’m sure it’s one of those.”

Morales gestures broadly again in the direction of the caves. He then shows the group the direction of the path across the desert. He traces its barely visible line, weaving between rocks and cacti, and as his finger reaches the mesa a few hikers come in to view in the distance. It appears that they’re headed in the direction of the dirt parking lot.

The sheriff leans down to his bag and removes a water bottle. He takes a long swig to combat the desert heat, especially now that the sun is almost at high noon. Just as the bottle parts from his mouth, Cade requests the law man’s firearm. As Cade hands him a copy of his headshot, Morales sends water flying from his mouth with a loud "HAHAHA" and cracks a smile for the first time the group’s seen. He continues laughing and can barely keep it together, but is subdued when Benny apologies for Cade’s behavior.

Benny makes it clear the group is about to head out, and while still chuckling, the officer manages to gain his composure enough to call after them.

“Hey - hey now, come on, hold up. There is no way in hell any sheriff with a spine would give a group of kids his gun. You think I’m nuts?” He continues to chuckle and half-smile.

He leans down, picking up the now dusty and water-pocked portrait, folds it in half, and puts it into his bag. “Ah, here ya go.” Morales pulls out a gallon Ziploc bag, the plastic of which is cloudy from repeated use. He stands up and tosses it at Benny. “Take that. Hopefully, you won’t need any of it, but ya never know.”

He closes his backpack, slings it over a shoulder, and flips his head causing his brown hair to flick from his face. He removed his signature mirrored aviators and addressed the group one last time.

“Be careful out there y’all. You never know what you could stumble into. Feel free to reach out when you get back if you want to talk more about the case. Happy to help in any way I can.”

Morales returns his sunglasses to his face, turns away from the group, and heads back down the path. He gives a slight wave over his shoulder and slowly treks towards the parking lot. Less than a minute later, the trio of hikers passes by the Crew, giving nods and waves as they do so. They too are headed for the lot.

Benny opens the bag from Morales and finds a practically ancient granola bar, 12 iodine water tablets, a bic lighter, three packets of Tylenol, an ice pack (the kind you punch to activate), and most exciting of all, a bright orange flare gun with four charges.
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The group agrees to head towards the caves. As they make the 500-yard trek across the scrubby desert, Sydney recites to the group facts about the flora and fauna, pointing to things as she sees them. While she is very keen on noticing the various grasses and cacti and helps them avoid crossing paths with a rather large tarantula, Selena fails to notice a grouping of goat head’s seeds and brushes her ankle against them. They are stuck to her skin, causing sharp pain, like a bee sting or papercut.


OOCThe group is now really close to the caves, less than 100 yards. You can see them dotted against the base of the mesa, almost like a row of swiss cheese holes. The first (and closest) one has a large opening, about 50 feet across and 30 feet high. The others have varying sizes of openings, but none are quite as big as the first in the line. In your next round of posts please RP 1.) helping Selena get those goat’s head seeds out, and 2.) deciding which cave to enter first and then approaching it.
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Last edited by NightCheese; Mar 5th, 2021 at 08:33 PM.
  #9  
Old Mar 6th, 2021, 08:22 PM
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Selena Rogers
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Selena cursed loudly as she felt the spur dig into her inner ankle. Looking down at her soft, exposed, skin, she quickly muttered "That's what I was afraid of..." to herself, as she quietly lifted the back of her shirt. As she raised the cloth from her back, a silvery object sparkled in the bring New Mexican sun, revealing a long bladed hunting knife that she had somehow managed to conceal during the walk from the car. As she deftly pulled the blade from its sheath, she looked about for a suitable spot to perform the minor surgery on herself. Kneeling down into a seemingly soft patch of sand, Selena hoped nothing else had chosen to hide in her new place of respite.

As she tried to pry the seed from her skin, she thought of all those 'old timey' Western movies, where the hero would use his (t)rusty blade to shave his chin, while looking dashing, and manly, for the camera. She wondered how dashing, and manly a figure she cut now? Huddled over in the dunes clasping at her leg? And couldn't help but chuckle at her misfortune. Finally, a success, a mild relief, as the irritant that had rent her flesh, broke free of its bind on her, and was quickly replaced by a small dot of red; rising quickly up from within to fill the vacancy left in the pointy shaped void.

Rising once more to her feet she looked around to see who may have noticed her "performance", and curtseyed slightly, for the bemusement of the onlookers. Once done, she quickly headed off again in the direction of the nearest cave; Her cheeks flushed more from the embarrassment than the kiss of the mid-morning sun.
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  #10  
Old Mar 6th, 2021, 09:19 PM
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Benny Romero
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Benny pops open the brittle, battered Ziploc bag and rummages around inside. "Okay, let's see what Mister Morales has for us." He shuffles the contents around, calling out each item to the group. "Granola bar... expired April 2009. Does coconut ever really go bad, though? Uh, iodine tablets, Tylenol, ice pack. Cool, cool... Whoa!" Benny's eyes widen, and a mischievous grin breaks across his face. "Dude! Cade! Our man gave us a gun after all!" Benny withdraws the blaze orange flare gun and drops the Ziploc in the dust. He cracks the tube and finds it empty - there are four charges in the baggie at his feet. He raises the plastic pistol high over his head. "Listen up you primitive screwheads!" he quotes, beaming. "Hell yeah," he mutters, turning the gun over in his hands. "Boom-stick." Once everyone else has had a chance to marvel at their cool new survival gear, Benny replaces the flare gun and jams the whole Ziploc into an outside pocket of his camera bag.

Not long after, on the walk toward the caves, Selena doubles over, cursing. Benny, bringing up the rear of the procession can't see what's happened. He shouts, "Hey! You good? You need any of Morales' first aid stuff?" The group stops hiking and gathers around Selena. She's already produced an impressive-looking hunting knife and has set to work prying a nasty burr from her ankle. "Damn," Benny curses, impressed. "That's some cowboy sh*t. You're tough as nails, dude!" He pats the camera bag and flashes Selena an expectant look. "You sure you're alright, though? Do we need to signal for help? You may have heard that I've recently come into an abundance of emergency flares." Feigning disappointment when it becomes clear that a signal flare is unwarranted, Benny resumes his place at the back of the line for the remainder of the short hike.

When the crew reaches the caves, they pause to deliberate about which entrance to try first. After a few moments Benny breaks away from the group while they continue to debate, scanning the dirt for any sign of foot traffic. He's no outdoorsman, but it definitely seems like the ground is clearest near the entrance of the cave third from the left. Some of the scrubby brush is trampled, and he even finds an old, cracked AA battery in the dirt nearby. "Hey guys," he calls, "I think we should try this one. Seems like it sees the most action." Benny points out what he's observed to the group and waits for their consensus.
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  #11  
Old Mar 7th, 2021, 09:41 AM
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Into the Biggest, Darkest Cave
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Syd ended up behind Cade on the dusty trail somehow; this is what happens when she’s trying to sneak up on random insects to get a better chance at identifying them. Her dedication to weaving in between cacti and friends just to point out the amazing life that squeaks out an existence in the desert scrub can be seen as remarkable, or just plain geeky. With a wide grin forming on her lips, the cheerleader waves a finger at the bag o’ stuff Benny is holding up. "Boom sticks are great but iodine tablets! How incredible are iodine tablets? Or did you say iodide, because if so, that’s terrifying and we should go back. Nuclear radiation and all that. But if it’s IodiNe, that purifies water, except for parasites. You could get rid of most parasites with a day’s worth of sun exposure." Syd’s mood brightens at Officer Morales’ gesture to keep them safe, especially by trusting them with a flare gun.

She stops as everyone else does and turns to take note of what Selena is doing. And that she is holding a big freakin’ knife to remove a caltrop burr. The blonde adjusts her phoenix embroidered cap before she tilts her head, intrigued, and keeps an eye on how the blade is being handled. She certainly doesn’t need rescuing. That’s new and frighteningly adorable. I think I feel safer... I wonder if she has a collection of weapons hidden in the apartment. I bet...she has a stash in the kitchen. Snapping out of her musings with a sudden blink at Benny’s humorous offerings, she grins playfully at Selena and says, ”I didn’t know you brought Sting along for the trip. Good call.” Then she mock punches Benny's arm, amused. "Flare gun. The darkness be damned."

"Hey guys," he calls, "I think we should try this one. Seems like it sees the most action." Benny points out what he's observed to the group and waits for their consensus.

"More traffic, means more random junk, which means we may get sidetracked. It also means that things that may have been buried, may be closer to the surface. Rocks that have shifted could be exposing clues now. It's definitely worth a shot, in my opinion. Petroglyphs or handprints could be on the ceiling, so we should really sweep the cave with light. And that'll scare the ghosts away, right Cade?" Sydney says mischievously, trying not to smile as she shoots Selena a prideful look, proving how good she is at not mentioning Gates or Magic or anything to the boys. On a more grounded note, though, as Syd walks up to the mouth of the cave that must feel especially dark while standing in the bright desert sun.
"We'll look for the least traveled-to cave after this one, or ...maybe we'll be lucky enough to see those petroglyphs. I just...feel. I mean. Think." She quickly corrects herself, brows furrowing as she focuses on her words. "..if an artist were looking for something meaningful, if she wasn't...here against her own free will...then maybe she'd have been drawn to primitive, spiritual artwork, instead of just, you know, the dark. The big question is - was she here willingly or not willingly?" Facts not feelings, Syd. The blonde almost seems to smile as she taunts the darkness of the cave with her booted foot, taking a step into the cave for a peek, and turns back to say. "Let's solve this mystery, Crew! Cade, you're on deck!"
  #12  
Old Mar 8th, 2021, 12:19 PM
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Dude, Where's my gun?

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Cade was thrown off as Benny pulled him to the side to apologize. This caused him to remain silent as Morales laughed, made a few comments and then handed off a bag to Benny. He winced when he saw the police officer fold his head shot adding to the cognitive dissonance he was experiencing in the moment. They had already begun to walk towards the caves when he finally spoke up as if coming out of a stupor.

"Benny you gun blocked me! I don't know about you but pretty please usually works very well for me. Remember Mrs. Janowicz? That old lady math professor? I asked if she could pretty please help me with my grade and she turned my 50 into a 75! She said she knew I meant to put down the right answers. " He paused to take a drink of water. "And did you see that?! He folded my headshot! Do you know how much those prints cost? I even put my autograph on the back. Early stuff tends to be worth the most."


"Say Benny? Since I was the one who asked you think you could hand over the flare gun?" Cade settled in to looking out at the landscape when a small commotion arose. Selena had gotten something stuck in her leg and pried it out.

Cade wandered over to her. "You alright? Those things don't look fun." Once he saw she was ok he put a smile on his face. "Sorry guys looks like we might have to put the old girl out to pasture. It looks serious." He nudged her shoulder. "Be more careful. I'm the one who is supposed to the do the dumb stuff remember?"

Now that he was sure she was fine his mind went back to more important matters; the flare gun and trying to get Benny to hand it over.


Syd's "You're on deck" snapped him from his dastardly contemplations. "I don't know Syd. I report the stuff I don't solve it. In my opinion she didn't come here of her own free will not without a phone and having a kid. If you think the path least taken is the way to go you have my support. Why don't we try the closest one to it then double back to the big guy if we have time. "








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Last edited by Anael; Mar 8th, 2021 at 12:19 PM.
  #13  
Old Mar 9th, 2021, 07:53 AM
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A Spelunking We Will Go
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The podcasters settled on entering the most-traveled cave first, saving the others for later. As they approach its entrance, it's clear that this is the cave that tour groups come to. There is a chained off around its perimeter, and lights shining from the floor to the ceiling automatically click on as they approach the opening. The uplighting lets off a faint but persistent hum.

When the lights turn on, inside the cave is revealed enough to be seen without flashlights or, if Cade has his way, the flare gun. The cowboy antics will have to wait for another day.

The well-trodden path around the perimeter is approximately 3 feet wide and flat. It makes a semi-circle around the cave, offering closer views at the walls. Signs point to entering on the left side of the cave and exiting on the right. The cave is approximately 30 feet across at its widest point. Within view from the entrance, at the rear of the cave, is a metal gate about waist high. About two feet behind the gate is a large wooden door that has been build into the cave's wall. On the door there is a sign which reads: NO ENTRY BEYOND THIS POINT. AUTHORIZED PARK STAFF ONLY.

Much to Sydney's delight, some petroglyphs are viewable on the ceiling and walls.




OOCA rough map of the inside of the cave is attached. Have at 'er, Cold Case Crew! Any investigation of stuff beyond the path will require rolls, obv.
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  #14  
Old Mar 10th, 2021, 02:51 PM
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Benny Romero
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As the crew approaches the mouth of the first cave, Benny breaks into a trot, huffing and puffing to catch up to Cade. He's panting by the time he arrives at his friend's side. "Hey, no hard feelings, man." Benny's holding the flare gun by the barrel, offering Cade the grip. He nods encouragingly. "Take it. I'll keep the charges with the first aid stuff. Kind of a... nuclear weapon, 'two-man rule' situation," he jokes. The two walk side-by-side for a few moments, quiet except for Benny's loud breathing. "Hey, you know I've got no love for Officer Cool Guy," he offers lamely. "But we can't have the talent getting tasered by some small-town cop with no sense of humor." Satisfied that he's cleared the air, Benny claps a heavy hand on Cade's shoulder. "Sorry about your headshots, hermano." With that, he trots off. The group has arrived at the entrance of the first cave, and Benny is eager to take a look inside.

Benny's first thought upon entering the cave is, This isn't it. With its well-worn path, stanchion chains, and electric lighting, the cavern is way more touristy than Benny expected. How could anyone get lost in here? It'd be like getting lost at the world's smallest Six Flags, he thinks, dispirited. All the same, Benny does a halfhearted loop of the path, taking stills and video of the petroglyphs. Altogether it takes less than 10 minutes to see everything. Bummer.

The only even remotely intriguing thing about the cave is the wooden door with its NO ENTRY sign. Benny is 99% sure the door is some sort of maintenance closet. Probably got the electrical for the floor lights, maybe some groundskeeping stuff. He sighs, ready to move on to the next cave, before he suddenly reconsiders. Benny's come too far already to leave any stones unturned, however stupid those stones may be. He shrugs off the straps of his gear bags and carefully places everything in a pile on the ground. He checks the exposure settings on his DSLR before slinging the camera to the small of his back. After a quick glance around the cave, he marches up to the low metal gate and climbs over, first one leg, then the other.

Faced with the door and its all-caps warning sign, Benny hesitates for a moment. This is dumb. Dumb or not, Benny's hands are moving before he can change his mind. No, he decides, I quit two jobs, deferred my loans and royally pissed off my parents for this project. I'm gonna see what's in this damn closet. He reaches out for the door handle.

OOCIf the door is unlocked, Benny will open it.

If the door is locked, he'll use his pocket knife to pry back the deadlatch plunger and try to pop the door.

If he gets the door open, Benny will rootle around inside a bit.
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Last edited by Mallothi; Mar 10th, 2021 at 02:53 PM.
  #15  
Old Mar 10th, 2021, 09:15 PM
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”Sydney”
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"Hey, no hard feelings, man." Benny's holding the flare gun by the barrel, offering Cade the grip. He nods encouragingly. "Take it. I'll keep the charges with the first aid stuff. Kind of a... nuclear weapon, 'two-man rule' situation," he jokes.

Syd raised a brow at the humble generosity displayed by Benny and offered a strange glance, followed by a friendly grin, to Selena as they ended up behind the Boys. The blonde was surprised by what had occurred on a number of levels, especially since the gun charges were going into a secondary medical bag that doubled as a camera case. Perhaps I should split up some of the bandages...Nah. It seemed as though the desert heat and perhaps the gravity of the Cold Case is taking a hold on those involved, each in a different manner. It certainly is having an effect on her, as Selena pointed out after they left the crystal shop. And 'Red', minus the riding hood, has a hunting knife. She can take on the woods now. That thought, even though it has an endearing quality to it in Syd's mind, is not going away anytime soon.

As the electric lights turned on, Syd's face just contorted in bewilderment. "This is … a surprisingly sterile, somewhat controlled environment. I would be hard-pressed to consider the notion that a body was buried here, or that Susanna came to this cave as a private retreat." She focused on the ceiling, tilting her head as she craned her neck back to look at the primitive artwork above her at the correct perspective. Then the usually bouncy cheerleader set her duffle down in the center, and removed her small notebook, unclipping the pen. "Benny..Cade… Syd bites her lower lip in thought, then glances at what Benny is doing with a grin before she turns in the spot she's standing in, trying to see if the petroglyphs on the walls give a 'running' story from this vantage point before moving (nearly bouncing over) to see, what she believes to be, the first petroglyph closest to the entrance of the cave on the left-hand side. It takes her a minute to grasp at that lost thought of hers. As she was saying, "...See if there's a map of the caves to find out where they don't give tours. One that's not lit or ...something. Please."

She walked the interior of the well-lit cave clockwise, slowly, seeing if the petroglyphs are merely random, individual drawings, or if they fit together like an unspoken, unbroken story from ages ago. Curiously, Syd reaches out to simply feel the cave wall and presses her palm against the roughness, needing to feel that connection to the past, even if it were as far back as ten years ago. "Selena, this is your forte. Is this…you know...? What do you deduce besides this makes a horribly bad spot to pre-meditatively murder someone? We ought to keep in mind that she was upset before she disappeared. She could have had two phones - one for her present life, and one for her home life. Maybe she met someone here. Maybe she wanted to just clear her head." As she speaks her thoughts aloud, her energy remains steady, focused.

Once she's seen each petroglyph on the wall and numbered it and noted it in her book, Syd returned to her duffle in the center to examine the ceiling petroglyph(s) again to compare and double-check the art - the method, the color. "Was she really here? Can we follow her path? Think, Syd." She murmured to herself. After a thoughtful pause, her brown-eyed gaze lowered from the ceiling as she rubbed the back of her neck, watching and listening to the others with a gentle smile, giving her that merry but more subtle glow again.



OOC & Attempted Actions
Syd is trying to get the overall view of the cave and the the petroglyphs - placement of them, is there a story? Is there something that Susanna could have 'read into', spiritually speaking, since she was trying to 'find herself' out here in this desert town. Perception check?

Plus, Syd is trying to be 'Insightful' about Susanna's possible actions, but trying to logic that out with 'what if she were alive and unhindered' is so speculative, I have a feeling I wouldn't roll to logically deduct what 'possible' actions Susanna, a person not well understood by her, would take . That seems RP oriented more than a roll at this point, I think.

Last edited by PlaidPeregrine; Mar 11th, 2021 at 08:49 AM. Reason: Words. :)
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