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Got a super-secret underground lair? DARPA wants to hear from you (like, yesterday)

By Benjamin Bullard
Creepy abandoned rail tunnel

Well, this isn’t creepy at all. For all nefarious cellar-dwellers, subway-stalking zombies, and fallout preppers — if you’ve got a super-secret, sprawling, labyrinthine underground lair just lying around waiting to be put to good use, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is dying for you to get in touch.

DARPA tweeted out an urgent-sounding PSA, soliciting any of you mad scientist types in possession of a suitably impressive subterranean compound to give them a shout. And when we say urgent, we’re talking ASAP. 

“It's short notice... We're asking for responses by Aug. 30 at 5:00 PM ET,” admitted the secretive government R&D skunkworks agency. But hey, maybe the compressed timeline will just give all you killer clowns, sewer-dwelling alligators, and Hannibal Lecters an extra bargaining chip when it’s time to talk compensation (or, if it’s more in your lane, perhaps a plea deal).

Okay, so maybe you’re not DARPA’s ideal candidate if all you have to offer is some whacked-out, off-the-grid underground dominion you carved out with a pickaxe and now preside over as its chief loon. From the PSA, it sounds as though the agency only wants to deal with legit-sounding institutions like colleges, municipalities, and maybe a Bruce Wayne-level reclusive corporate titan or two. But they’re clearly in need of a ready-for-duty Batcave — and the reason is right in line with DARPA’s military mission.

Chasing the document chain attached to DARPA’s tweet reveals the agency is seeking out an underground infrastructure to help bone up on its tech-based responsiveness to “global security and disaster-related search and rescue missions.” From DARPA’s related Request for Information bulletin:

DARPA is interested in understanding the state-of-the-art in innovative technologies that may enable future solutions to rapidly map, navigate, and search unknown complex subterranean environments to locate objects of interest. To support these technologies, DARPA is looking to find locations that researchers can utilize to experiment and enhance their innovative approaches. 

…DARPA is interested in identifying university-owned or commercially managed underground urban tunnels and facilities able to host research and experimentation in support of current and future programs. Human-made underground environments that span several city blocks with complex layouts and multiple stories, including atriums, tunnels, and stairwells are ideal. Spaces that are currently closed off from pedestrians or can be temporarily used for testing are of interest. 

Did you get all that? More to the point, if you just so happen to be affiliated with the kind of institution that’s in possession of what DARPA’s looking for, are you gonna be the intrepid one who ventures into the disused depths of your forsaken tunnels, flashlight in hand, to make sure all the gremlins are gone before the new tenants move in?

At any rate, the clock’s ticking. Don’t hoard your bedrock bastion all to yourself. Hurry up and give the government a call — just be sure to send someone else to do that last-minute safety check.

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