Come Out of Your Shell - Not Approved by the HR Dept.

OOC: Joint Post between Spencer & Esimed

The elevator to the basement had been a lucky find at first; otherwise Erik was worried he'd be asked to tunnel into the floor or if this whole basement talk had been some kind of ruse. But now in the elevator, Erik was feeling more and more anxious. Being in confined spaces had always been a point of worry for him; he preferred wide open places where he didn't have a chance to break anything, but in addition the possibility of more robots also made him leery as the previous encounter hadn't gone favorably, if he was being generous with his efforts. Even if their trespass were approved now, it may only be for certain parts of the facility, or maybe there's some kind of glitch that only stopped the onslaught temporarily.

His mind racing with possibilities, Erik gripped the mace tightly and tried to keep his mind calm.

“I see you’ve picked out a souvenir,” Theo pointed at the mace in Erik’s hand and watched the big man carefully. She was confident they were heading in the right direction, that being down, and as there were only a few buttons on the elevator’s panel she didn’t see how she could have possibly chosen the wrong one. But Erik looked uncomfortable which was hard for her to comprehend. She took comfort from her identity as the daughter of two revered superheroes and in her abilities to manipulate the magical forces, but for it all she was still only human. Erik however, was the son of a god and that made him divine as well, yet the poor fellow looked like he was nervous enough to jump out of his skin. And that would be a shame because it was really nice skin. Theo knew three things relevant to the moment: she needed to help Erik relax, she needed to refrain from touching his manly skin or she ran the risk of being unladylike, and she knew the red button on the elevator was for an emergency stop because she’d pressed it every time in the past, much to Niko’s embarrassment. She couldn’t help it, she was drawn to the color red like a moth to flame often with the same results. So she knew only to press the red button when it was time to stop.

Theo pressed the red button and the elevator came to an abrupt halt, giving them both the sensation of being pressed into the floor. Geez, how fast had this thing been going?

“Something’s obviously bothering you, Thorson; sorry I meant Erik. So we’re going to sit here in this cozy space where we’re completely safe until you spill the beans. If it’s something related to this mission I should know now because I’m responsible for us being here as your leader and friend. We’re friends right? Good, I thought so too. You have nice skin and there’s no reason for you to be standing there like I’m about to bite your head off.”

As the elevator came to a halt Erik looked over to Theo. He gave a moment to quickly try and pull his thoughts together but as he tried to speak he found he couldn't get the words right in his head. Frustrated he turned back toward the door, “It's just…” he shook his head lightly and moved his tongue about his mouth.

The Witch was relentless in her awkward attempt to be helpful. “In my experience most of our fears are completely unreal, manifested purely from imaginations. Trust me, I have plenty of experience with this. Now I won’t say our manifest fears are harmless because they aren’t. They can absolutely kill us and mine have nearly killed my cousin and I on numerous occasions, but until you recognize it as a manifestation of your fear, how will you know by what means to fight it?”

Erik started again, turning his head aside to Theo, “It's just, I don't know if - if there's more robots I'm not sure if I can keep you from getting hurt and….and that sucks? Like I really don't want you to get hurt by me being an idiot or by me being too weak to stop them from hurting you and how are you not worried?” He was looking at her head on now, but was now more than ever keenly aware of how close they were in a confined space and how much he lacked a shirt. As a result of the revelation he quickly turned back to the door, his face growing slightly red.

“I have concerns about the success of our efforts. I’d be a fool not to. This is something Niko and I have been prepping for our entire lives. Maybe not breaking and entering like this, but this sort of stuff. You handled yourself well against the security bots; I think we all did. And I don’t want to die anymore than I want you or any of the others to come to harm. But I can’t let that avert me from taking action. The stakes are too high for that. I was serious when I said we’re going to save the world. A few of us are bound to get roughed up a bit in the process.” She squeezed his biceps to illustrate her point. “And if I get roughed up, by who better than you? So use your worries and fears as building blocks for corrective actions, not the bars of a prison that lock you into more doubt. Feel better? Now come on, let’s go find you a shirt; preferably something sleeveless.”

Theo pressed the red button again and frowned. Nothing happened. “Hhmm.. don’t worry, this can happen sometimes. Apparently pressing the emergency stop button twice does not always rescind the emergency stop. And I don’t see a green button. Remain calm, we’re not stuck; we just can’t get out the traditional way. I can always portal us back to the main floor, but I’d rather keep going down on this thing.”

He chewed on her words for a while without moving, staring straight on to the elevator door. Sure planning was all well and good, and you could prepare for it all you want but if that's what years of preparation look like...he didn't want to think what would happen if they weren't right.

But that's what they were here for right? Niko had said he should master his powers so he could live like a normal person. Now Theo also had a point, though whether he was willing to see it as a good one he couldn't yet decide. The vision she had given him was…. persuasive to her point that they were needed and the thought brought his mind back to the runes on his mace. But it was easy for her to say; she had control and practice and guidance; as someone who didn't have to hide her powers and…

Erik groaned loudly and leaned forward into the metal of the elevator. The cold felt nice on his head, but of course all he could think about was if he had left a stupid dent to cause the elevator to get stuck. “Shit….maybe we can use the release switch? There's usually something…” He took his head from the wall and looked over at the controls. He was standing just outside of arm grabbing distance from Theo’s hands (although he doubted that would ever be truly avoided). He looked up toward the ceiling of the small metal box and pointed toward a hatch in the roof corner. “You might be able to get the release up there, I uh….I uh saw it in a movie so it's probably not real but...yeah.” His mind went to a rainy day with his mother explaining the bad physics behind some animated movie. He couldn't remember the movie now, but he definitely remembered the explanation on opposing forces of relatively equal mass colliding.

Theo leaned down until her face was mere inches from the control panel and examined the few buttons there. “Nope, nothing labeled release switch, here. There’s this red button though. I still feel like it’s the one for me.” She hovered her finger over the button for a moment then thought better of it. “Hey, have you managed to get your hands on one of those little slabs of glass that people use to create remote links to other small pocket-sized slabs of glass? Niko has one enchanted by the evil sorcerer, Verizon of Motorola. Sounds like a car to me, but Niko swears it’s just glass.” Theo moved to stand directly beneath the access hatch in the ceiling.

After thinking about it for a bit, Erik asked, “Do you...do you mean a cellphone? I left mine back home because I didn’t want it to break.”

“Cell phone!" Theo snapped her fingers. “That's what it's called. So….before I go up there, have you tried forcing the main doors open? It’s worth a shot, right?”

“Yeah….so I’ll uh, give you a boost up there. I could try the doors but I’m not really certain that we’ll have anything out there but wall.” He took a cautious step toward Theo as he set down the mace very carefully onto the elevator floor. He really hoped he was right about this.

“You could be right,” Theo shrugged and lifted a foot, wiggling it in the air until Erik cupped his hands together and lifted her up. “Don’t let me fall,” she pretended to be uneasy with the maneuver and was thankful her smile was hidden by her upturned face. Niko had been hurling her into trees and onto rooftops since they were little kids. Once they discovered that the momentum he generated could be passed to her she’d insisted on being tossed around like a magic missile. Every danger and risk you could imagine had been a real danger and risk that they took. For a while Niko had thought to talk himself out of the job by accusing her of being too heavy. It turned out telling a fourteen year old girl that she was too heavy was more treacherous to Niko’s health than he was willing to abide. Eventually Theo promised to stop hexing him if he’d promised to work out more and never again accuse her of gaining weight. To this day Niko assured her she was as light as a twelve year old and she ate it up.

In the elevator, Erik may have thought she weighed more than a twelve year old, but he was kind enough not to say so. Theo braced one hand against the ceiling and flipped the series of latches that secured the hatchway. The doorway slid up and she reached to grab hold with both hands, pulling herself up easily. Her red leather cape snaked its way through the opening then her head popped back through. “You coming or you want me to fuck around in the dark by myself?” Theo held down her hand and wiggled her fingers eagerly. “Let’s go muscles.”

Erik looked up at the hand with some concern before taking it and giving a small jump to grip the edge of the hole. With a quick hoist Erik joined Theo in the darkness. “Thanks,” he said before looking about as his eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, “So we should be looking for some kind of - I guess it's a release switch? I don't ... really know though.” He really hoped that his movie knowledge hadn't completely betrayed him.

In the dark Theo’s eyes and fingertips glowed a soft red, almost pink. She drew her hand through the air leaving a red luminescent heart in its wake. Not the kind of heart little girls drew, but a 3 dimensional biological heart with beating chambers, valve stems and everything. Because she was a grown up. “Don’t worry, it’s not a love spell; just some light. If you touch it nothing bad should happen.” By the light they looked around; she’d never been on top of an elevator before, but it didn’t look quite like the movies. There was a cable, but it didn’t look strong enough to support the weight of an elevator. “Between Stark and Parker they probably created some space race symmetric polygon material for the cable,” Theo directed Erik’s attention to the cable. Her eyes followed the cable up the shaft into darkness. “I wonder how far below the ground this hangar is,” Theo asked. She gave the cable a sturdy shake, but it was taut and showed no obvious signs of wear or movement. She moved over to the edge of the elevator, but there didn’t appear to be any gears. She jumped up and down thinking maybe it just needed to be rocked loose.

“Erik, if you jump on that other side we could probably break it free.” Theo was having a great time. This reminded her of moving furniture down the stairs with Niko as a child. Nothing ever wanted to fit, but with enough force they’d always managed to get it done.

The light source was interesting to say the least and Erik was certainly tempted to poke it. He wondered what kind of energy it ran off of; what was fueling the light? He thought to ask Theo but figured he'd probably just get some kind of 'magic’ response so he decided against pressing further. He looked up and down the cable before responding to Theo’s suggestion. “That might work….I mean we don’t know the tensile strength of the wire or the current weight limit of the crank but we could probably jostle it a bit at least right? It might...alright well it could definitely also send us careening down and ugh yeah...probably not great.” He looked about again in the red light for something, anything that might not require them to do something so potentially dangerous.

“If the elevator goes plummeting we can just ride it down and jump up at the last minute, right? Except we won’t know when the last minute is until it’s too late. Good point; maybe we don’t do that.” But she did indeed keep jumping up and down on her side. She looked over at Erik who was staring again. “Fine,” she consented and stopped jumping. She knelt down to examine the sides of the shaft where they met the elevator. “Do you see these panels? I think it’s an electric propulsion like the Mono-rail.” A kissing smooch sounded from the red heart floating freely in space and Theo shook her head. “The other kind of Mono with a track; for trains." She made a motion of pulling the conductor's chain to blow a whistle. "I don’t see any gears or wheels or pulleys.”

“Erik, this might be it,” she pointed to a horizontal sheet of glass laid flush with the top of the elevator. It wasn’t large; roughly the size of a few playing cards, but beneath it was a small red button labeled Ludicrous Speed. “Oh I knew it! Always it’s the red button. I’m going to press it.” She punched the glass panel and it shattered into two small panes.

“I..don’t know if that-” But Erik’s protest were too late as the sound of metal and fiber loosening filled the shaft around them. As the floor quite literally dashed away from his feet Erik scrambled to come up with some idea as to how they might survive. In his head he tried running some numbers for how fast everything would be moving but he could already feel his feet moving toward Theo. In the moment there was clarity, no worrying about himself, no worrying about hurting other people, no worrying about his lack of a shirt and how Theo had been giving him weird eyes about it since the end of the fight (and how he was also slightly more concerned about how Niko had looked at him afterword), it all faded away. There was a dangerous situation, there was someone who he could help, and there was a way to help them….or at least he hoped there was.

He rushed over to Theo and took her around the waist in one arm as the other hand flew to the cord at the center of the shaft. It was going to leave one hell of a burn, but it was better than having gravity make a salsa of their insides. He gritted his teeth and closed his eyes as he anticipated the pain as he felt the strain come across his right arm and shoulder. The pair was lifted about five feet before suddenly their journey upward was brought to a halt.

DING

There was a soft chime from inside the elevator and they could hear the doors slide open. Up top, Theo had her witchy arms wrapped around Erik’s neck and her head tipped back giggling. “Superb, Erik! My hero! You jumped into action without thinking yourself into a corner and saved our lives. Well if they had been in danger.” Theo tapped the back of Erik’s neck to indicate she was ready to be let down. It may have been more of a soft caress, but in these moments it was hard to tell. She dropped down the hatch and stuck her foot in the door to hold it open, looking up at the hole in the ceiling for Erik to emerge. “I saw an “H” on the side of the shaft and it indicated a few dozen feet to bottom. I knew we were safe, Erik. I would not intentionally put your life in danger. Now won’t you come down here and help me find the armory?”

To be Continued…

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