Written by Darala Starr :: [Sunday, 23 June 2019 23:33] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 29 June 2019 00:40]
Inside the store, the sound of the alarm was almost deafening. Tina ran behind the main counter and pressed a hidden button. The sound stopped immediately.
“That was a very unpleasant sound” Darala said.
Tina whirled around and ran down a flight of metal stairs. Jason and Darala quickly followed her.
They arrived in a concrete room. On one side of the room were many filing cabinets and a drafting table. There were some antiques left about along with some cleaning supplies. On the far side of the room was the vault door. It was very imposing, silver grey, with a single, large spoked wheel in the center of it. The spokes were enormous and the rim of the wheel was more than an inch-thick solid steel and twenty one inches in diameter. It looked like the sort of thing one would see on a hatch of a battleship.
On the wall next to the vault was a mounted telephone with a red button underneath it. Tina rushed to the phone, picked it up and pressed the red button to talk. It was a simple two-way intercom between this room and the inside of the vault for just such an emergency as this.
“Hello,” Tina said loudly. “Is anyone in there?”
A moment later a frightened voice answered.
“Help, please help me!”
The voice belonged to a young man named Kyle who’d been working in the store part time for over a month.
“Kyle, how did you get trapped in there?” Tina asked. “I didn’t see you anywhere when I locked up!”
Kyle’s frightened voice said, “I know, I’m sorry. I was down here and I had my Walkman on. I couldn’t hear you. Someone grabbed me and pushed me inside. This is my fault!”
Tina said, “Okay, don’t worry, we’re going to get you out of there, just relax and I’ll call someone. I’ll be right here.” She hung up the phone and Jason asked, “Can’t we just open this thing”
Tina shook her head. “Normally, yes, but look over here…”
She pointed to a flush panel on the wall that was ajar. Inside were a set of cables that were cut clean through.
Tina explained “Those lines power the hydraulics that generate enough pressure to move the locks inside the door with the wheel. Without those, there’s just no easy way in. Whoever threw Kyle in there knew enough to cut them so we couldn’t get to him.”
Jason lunged for the door and grabbed the wheel in his hands. He pulled against it, trying desperately to turn it. The muscles in his arms and legs bulged.
Tina said, “Jason, forget it. Those locks are thousands of pounds, you can’t move that wheel.”
Jason let go and took a step back. "Maybe not," he said. He turned and nodded to Darala. “But she can.”
Tina glanced quizzically at him, then whipped her stare at Darala who stood halfway between them and the staircase.
“Her?” Tina said nearly scoffing. “Jason, this is very serious, it’s no time for jokes!”
Jason planted his hands on his hips and said, “This is no joke, Tina. Darala can do this.”
Darala took a step forward and said, “Please, let me give it a try.”
Tina scowled. “I don’t know what you possibly hope to accomplish,” she said.
Darala put a gentle hand on Tina’s shoulder. “It’s okay, just tell me what needs to be done.”
Resigned, Tina said, “The wheel has to be turned a full half turn to the right. But there’s no way you can…”
Darala quickly brushed past Tina before she could finish her sentence, approaching the vault door. “Don’t worry,” she said and rocked her hips back and forth for a more powerful stance. She slid her hands on opposite sides of the wheel, wrapping her fingers tightly around it.
Tina backed away and moved next to Jason.
“Jason,” she whispered, “this is pointless.”
Jason grinned and said, “Just… watch…”
Darala could feel the prodigious weight of the locks through the tension of the wheel.
She drew her focus directly on it, her stare intense, her eyes very sharp. She took a deep breath and pushed her chest out. And then she began to apply her strength to the wheel. More and more of it. There was dead silence at first, but then, from the center of the door, behind the wheel, came a rattle and then a massive, rising groan. And the wheel turned the first inch!
Tina’s jaw unhinged in total astonishment and Jason knowingly smiled.
Darala pressed her body tighter against the wheel, bringing the full leverage of her Tau Ceti strength to bear on it. The groan from the vault door rose into a sudden howling cry as the big steel locks inside began to slide from their moorings. Darala felt the massive resistance against her. This was extremely difficult and she was using every ounce of power she possessed. Her arm muscles were as hard as rock, her biceps bulging enormously beneath her suit.
Tina said in hushed awe, “I can’t believe it!”
About halfway through the turn, Darala felt the steel in her fingers begin to bend. A terrible screech rang through the wheel as her hands were slowly deforming its circumference. But she kept the wheel moving, inch-by-inch, straining, clamping her eyes shut, gritting her teeth! Darala cried out, summoning untapped power, and the steel deformed more and more in her hands with a terrible shriek.
“You’re almost there, Darala!” Jason said loudly.
Darala cried out one more time, her teeth clenched, her strength nearly exhausted. The moaning and creaking of the massive locks reached a peak, filling the room, and the wheel let out a final tortured cry as Darala made the last of the turn, almost collapsing the wheel completely! Nearly out of breath, Darala stepped back and pulled the vault door open.
Kyle ran out from the vault and Tina grabbed him and hugged him. “Are you all right, Kyle?” He was in shock, trying to calm down.
Darala took a step back and hunched over, planting her hands on her knees. Jason ran over to her and put his arm around her.
“Darala, Darala, what’s wrong?” he asked.
She pointed to her belt. “I… my breath… I need more…”
“I don’t understand,” Jason said.
“Is she okay?” Tina asked.
Darala managed to push a command into her bracelet and her belt began to glow. Slowly, the extra Tau Ceti pressure entered her lungs and she began to recover.
“I’m oh-kay,” she said, nodding. “I’m okay.” Carefully she stood back up, and hugged Jason. Jason put his arms around her and they stood in a close embrace.
“You did it, Darala. I knew you could,” he said.
Tina stepped around them and examined the vault door. The massive wheel was now a warped oval rather than a perfect circle, and the sheer deformity of the steel was more than she could comprehend.
Darala and Jason parted slowly and Tina asked, “Okay, seriously, how did you do that? No one can do that!”
“I told you she could do it,” Jason said. Darala put her arm around Jason’s waist and said, “Thank you for believing in me.” Jason slid his arm around Darala’s waist and gave her a squeeze. And the sensation of feeling her lycra suit and those muscles underneath almost got him in trouble. He was still in his dolfin shorts and so he decided to let her go, but slowly.
Tina said, “Darala, you saved Kyle’s life. Thank you.”
Darala said, “I’m just glad I was able to help.”
There was a beeping sound coming from Darala’s bracelet and new coordinates appeared.
“That’s strange,” she said. “I think what I’m looking for is inside this vault.”
Darala whirled around the big door and stepped inside the vault. There were lots of metal boxes, all of them locked. Except for one, the lid tilted wide open. Jason came to her side and examined it.
“Looks like someone took it.”
Darala said, “Which means they must know I’m here looking for it. I wonder if that Torellian slime ball alerted someone.”
Tina stepped into the vault area and said, “Will one of you please explain what is going on here?”
Darala looked at Jason, then at Tina. She glanced down and said, “I really like your shorts!”
Tina crossed her arms in front of her chest and glared intently at Jason and Darala. “No more games. Who are you? And how did you tear this vault door apart with your bare hands?”