Chapter 5: The missing elevator
"So these alien things are bipedal?"
The last few hours of walking had been blessedly boring. We'd found a few cacti that we could nibble the fruit off. That had served as lunch, and had in fact been the highlight of the day so far. Other than that, there was one pesky bloat sprite that had tried to approach. Lee had made some comment about needing bug-spray. Saffron responded by using his bug spray, which incidentally, is also known as a minigun. I can see us dubbing the thing Bug Spray some time in the future. Most of the time it was just one step after another, with the odd bit of banter as we tried to get to know each other a little better.
"I know you two hate raiders, and what they do. So do I for that matter, but...." Saffron paused. "Where do you to stand on taking drugs?"
"I have no problem with the careful use of medication," I responded, "but I want nothing to do with that addictive crap ponies take for fun." I guess Saffron wasn't including Demi in the discussion because of her age.
"What about the war drugs, when used for their intended purpose?" Saffron asked.
"I suppose your armor's integral medical system has them on tap." I commented.
"It does," he confirmed.
"If it was a case of take the drug as a last resort to save my life, yes, I'd take it. There are some drugs that are pointless in me taking. For example I doubt Hydra would do me any good at all. Other than that, no, never." I stated.
"Lee?" Saffron asked.
"Dunno. I'm still learning about this place. But what Anne said is pretty good. Medication is good. Everything else is bad." Lee answered.
"It's better to use natural remedies," Demi interjected quietly. "Mostly."
So she was going to include herself in the conversation anyway, even if she was unsure she was welcome. Good for her.
That was when I first felt the vibration. Initially it was barely perceptible, like a minor shock wave from a distant explosion. Then it started again, a little stronger, and persisting for longer. Perhaps it was a distant landslide. There were enough rain saturated hills around for that to be no surprise. We walked on in silence for while, climbing one gentle hill to which quite a few clumps of grass were clinging, then deviated along the ridge to avoid having to cross a rock strewn gully that didn't look that navigable. Saffron broke the silence.
''I've seen better ponies than me get addicted," he said, "so as a last resort, yes, I would take the drugs. I would have taken them a few days back, if I could have. Fortunately I survived anyway."
"Huh? What happened a few days back?" Demi inquired.
Saffron sort of laughed. "I blew up."
"I guess that's one way of looking at it!" I commented. He was being a good sport.
"What about sex?" Saffron asked. I wondered how long he'd been wanting to ask that one.
"Nope. I'm a virgin." I said. That would hopefully toss cold water on any fire he had in his nether regions.
"Me too, fortunately," Demi stated, "and if you hadn't found me when you did, I doubt I would be able to say that now!"
Okay, so Demi knew exactly what the slavers intentions for her were. She was becoming friendlier, and more open quite rapidly, but she was still staying as close to me as she could. Acceptance, understanding, perhaps even compassion were new to her, and she was reveling in them, but she was still uncertain. I wondered how many times her parents had given her a little hope, only her smash her down again.
"I'm a virgin too," Lee suddenly added in a quite matter of fact way. That made me splutter. The other two stopped mid step, and turned their heads to face me first, then to stare at her.
"You a virgin, Lee? I don't think so," I squeaked. "Where the fuck do you think I came from?"
"Hmm. You may be on to something there," Lee mused, studying me. "Forgive me if I keep forgetting I have a daughter in this world, but in my world I am fresh young maiden!"
That was too much for me, and I choked on what I was trying to say next, resulting in me having such a coughing fit I collapsed. Finally I stopped coughing enough to feel whatever was making the earth rumble was at it again. Maybe we were having a minor earth tremor.
"How old are you, then?" Demi asked Lee.
"I'm eighteen.... I think." She didn't sound very sure of herself. "I was shot in the head, so it gets a little unclear. Maybe I'm thirty five."
"I'm as old now as she was when we were converted," I muttered to the others as I climbed back onto my feet. "Trust me, Lee, you aren't thirty five, and you most definitely aren't eighteen."
Demi gently nudged me, then put her muzzle up to my ear. "You are not my age, are you? You seem a lot older... I don't know how, but... What you are saying now implies..." she whispered unable to finished her sentences. "Forgive me if I'm wrong."
I smiled. "You are quite right Demi," I said quietly. "I've been a cyborg for the last nineteen years."
"Oh, and you are still so small..."
"I stopped growing when they converted me. Metal doesn't grow. That's why." I quietly explained. That and all the modifications they had done to the organic parts they kept when they did. They couldn't afford for my organic bits to undergo a growth spurt while my frame didn't. It was the tampering with our hormones that rendered sterile any converted mare that kept her uterus.
"What about you, Saffron?" Lee suddenly asked.
"Sex or age?" he responded. "Yes, please, and twenty three."
"Males. Always the same." I shook my head.
"Seriously Anne," Saffron asked, "why are you still a virgin at your age?"
"Because there is no point to sex for me. All of the female conversions ended up sterile. When they converted me, they needed all the space they could get in my body for the cybernetics. I was converted young after all. Even the few times when they left larger mare's reproductive organs intact, they still couldn't have foals. We were meant to be soldiers, so our ability to reproduce was a low priority," I explained sadly.
"Wow." Demi said softly. "You got a pretty raw deal. Why were you converted?"
"My father and the Overmare were part of some sort of conspiracy to make a cyborg army. Lee and I were their victims."
"Your own father..." Demi said sadly, then snuggled up to me as if to express reassurance, or a mutual understanding.
"So you can't even have sex then?" Saffron asked, and he seemed a bit miffed. Whether it was because he fancied my tail, or just because the concept offended him, I didn't know.
I sighed. "I see I'm going to have to spell this out for you, or you'll be asking me about it all day," I said. " I don't have a uterus, though like all the other female conversions from our stable, I have enough equipment back there to get my jollies if I was so inclined."
Saffron seemed visibly relieved. "I'm glad they weren't totally heartless," he said. So maybe he had been thinking about me, rather than about my tail. Even if he was a bit misguided, he wasn't a bad sort.
I felt the ground rumble again.
"Speaking of good vibrations, did the ground just move for you too?" I asked.
"Now that you mention it, yes," Saffron confirmed.
"That felt very localized to me," Demi commented. "I've felt vibrations like that when walking on pre-war bridges, or in some old buildings."
I paused, scanning the immediate area. Apart from the few nondescript hillocks off to each side, and the worn dirt track on which we were walking, there wasn't a lot to see. The other members of the party also stopped as the rumbling increased, though perhaps rumbling wasn't quite the right word. It was more of a grating now, like concrete dragging against concrete.
"That doesn't bode well," I stated. "Lets get the hell out of here. Walk quickly but carefully in the direction from which we just came. Who knows how far this unstable area exten.... Eeeek!"
The ground in front of us rose, while that which we were on fell, as the buried concrete slab on which we had been walking tilted. We had no hope of getting off it, as the ground opened behind us, and the slab tipped us into the resultant maw. We fell, accompanied by the slab itself, fragments of broken concrete and a lot of sand. The sand and dust made it hard to make out anything in the fading light of the rapidly receding opening above us. There was much yelling, cussing and squealing as we plummeted, bouncing against the steeply angled concrete wall every so often. As my brain overcame the initial shock and confusion and switched into adrenaline fueled overdrive, I recognized one squeal as that of Demi, and she was right in front of me. If I could just reach her. Magic. My magic. My horn lit as I shoved against the wall behind me, moving myself towards her. I felt a couple of gentle impacts, indicating she was kicking at the air, and I was being bumped by her hips and shoulders as she did.
"Demi," I called, wrapping my legs around the filly and holding on as tightly as I could. As soon as I had a satisfactory grip, I turned my magic down and pushed against the air for all I was worth, reaching out, trying to find the walls, trying to make an air-tight seal. I felt some turbulence, and pushed even harder, a second over glow forming over my horn. Harder, harder, we were still falling, and if I couldn't cushion us, we were all dead, very dead. We hadn't been falling long, yet we had been falling an eternity. The bouncing and sliding against the wall had prevented us from reaching the speeds we would have reached in free fall, but we were still plummeting at a deadly rate. Even with the cushion I was trying to form we were still moving way too fast to survive. Dammit! I did not rescue Demi only to lead her to her death within a day. I focused everything else I had into pushing, not even noticing as yet another over glow formed over my horn. Honey colored swirls formed around the boundary of the shaft, rippling, twisting, strengthening as they sealed against the walls. A thinner honey colored bubble stretched between the walls, just below us, moving down with us. I noticed we were gaining on the bubble, rapidly gaining, then the bubble appeared to stop.We hit it, bouncing a little, as it flexed below us. In rapid succession I felt large cushioned blows as Saffron and Lee hit it too, as well as multiple vibrations caused by the various bits of debris. Then I could hold it no more. As my consciousness started to fade, I felt the magic implode, and a great rush of air blowing up past us as the cushion burst, then I felt myself hit the ground, back first, Demi still safely cradled in my legs. Thank goodness I had my battle saddle mounted weapons at the ready. If they had been parked vertically, it would have been most unpleasant.
Still, something wasn't quite right. Something still had to happen. What was I forgetting? The slab! The damn slab! I reached up weakly with my magic to try to do something about .... and knew no more.
Strange noises and their echoes slowly broke into my private universe of total silence and darkness. I finally recognized one noise as a somewhat concerned voice. Another was the less concerned voice of a male. "Don't worry," he said, "she'll wake up, I assure you. We survived the fall with no serious injuries so she will be fine. She's just tired. It's a unicorn thing."
Mentally, I hunted around my body trying analyze my situation - no significant pain, good, maybe a couple of bruises, not so good. I was lying on my side, obviously free of my battle saddle, so someone had decided I was healthy enough to move. I tried to find some body part that would respond. Eyelids. Eyelids were good. I forced them to open, and that left me staring at a grey haze. The cybernetics took over and focused my eyes automatically. Unfortunately they weren't fitted with light amplification.
"She's awake!" someone squeed. That had to be Demi. Yup, that voice was definitely Demi.
"Welcome to the pit. Anything broken?" Saffron asked.
"The pit?" I managed to ask.
"We fell a long way, and there doesn't appear to be any way to climb back out," Saffron explained. "Fortunately you saved our lives, so we at least have the chance to try. So, how do you feel?"
"I feel like I just tried to power New Appleloosa for a week with my horn," I muttered.
"That was a mighty fine thing you did there. How did you manage to act so fast? Dash per chance?" Saffron asked, referring to our earlier discussion on drugs.
"Adrenaline. Pure and simple," I stated. "I would have needed to be on Dash already to have been fast enough to get it out and use it."
"So you did that without using any Dash? I'm impressed!" Saffron stated, admiration in his voice.
I felt someone snuggle up against me, and a wing wrapped around my body. "I'm so glad you are all right," the owner of the solitary wing said happily. Had Demi's parents ever seen this side of her, or had she been so love starved that she was soaking up whatever kindness she could get like a sponge, and responding in kind a hundredfold? Ah, yes. I had just saved her life too. Whatever the case, I was growing rather fond of her.
That was when I remembered the falling slab, and wondered why we weren't flattened. "The slab of concrete....?" I voiced.
"Still up there somewhere," Saffron answered. "Even broken, it's managed to wedge it self between the walls. The shaft is tapered, which no doubt helped. We've moved out of its way, so even if it does fall, it won't land on us, though we might still be peppered with shrapnel."
I lit my horn and glanced around from where I lay. We were in a large room that was off to one side of the shaft. Set into the wall on opposite side to the opening into the shaft were set some large, heavily reinforced steel doors. As a way for ponies to get into a building, this was pretty poor, though as I considered it, I realized it wasn't designed for ponies to enter and leave. It was designed for equipment to be brought into whatever structure was down here. It wasn't practical, or in most cases, even possible to lug equipment into a bunker or stable down the same access route that ponies used. In the case of a deeply buried bunker, the first thing constructed was a giant shaft into which a temporary elevator was fitted. Machinery and digging equipment went down, then soil and rock went up. After that, prefabricated modules and other building materials went down, and the stable or bunker was constructed using this shaft as the main access point. When all was finished, the elevator was removed, and the shaft was filled with sand then covered with concrete, unless for some reason future access was needed, in which case the sand filling was omitted. We had clearly just found one such structure.
I activated my Pipgirl and scanned the world and local maps. There was nothing marked for this area, so this place had gone undisturbed for as long as people had been wandering around placing and updating Pipbuck markers, and that meant it had probably been left undisturbed since the war. When we got out of here, I'd register a marker myself. I'd have to come up with a name for the place too, assuming the place did not identify itself. Perhaps it was destined to have one of those classic names like "Luna's throat". For the moment I settled on registering it on my Pipgirl as "Caution, deep hole". When it was finally in range of whatever the tagging system used, it would register the temporary name. I suspected the white sky towers were part of some sort of triangulation system. It certainly wasn't their only function, but they were the most likely structures in Equestria to be able perform such a duty. As for registering tags, very few ponies had the required equipment to do it, and of those, even fewer knew how to do so.
"Okay, we're stuck at the bottom of an unknown shaft in the middle of nowhere in particular. Has any pony found a less obvious way up?" I inquired, already knowing they hadn't.
"Don't look at me," Demi whispered. "Flight is not in my skill set."
I smiled. "I like your use for wings better."
She made a funny little sound in response.
"I also assume everyone is more or less uninjured, or you would have told me by now," I surmised.
"After the soft landing you gave us, we are all fine. You had the worst of it, landing on your battle saddle with Demi on top of you," Lee commented. "And before you ask, your saddle survived too."
I somewhat laboriously stood, and staggered over to the great doors. Getting them to open would be the trick. Raw muscle power would simply be inadequate to move them unless a series of gears or pulleys was used. More likely, they were power assisted either by electricity or magic, much like Stable-Tec stable doors were. A little hunting around revealed an access panel to one side of the doors. Once it had probably been where the door controls were mounted. Now it was just a blank plate, and fairly thick too. I could not detect any electrical activity, so if there was any wiring behind it, it was either disabled, or the plate was shielding any attempts to detect it.
Pressing my horn against the plate, I activated a one of the spells I used when repairing distant wire breaks - the spell that let me cut a hole through the debris. I couldn't cut a hole big enough for us all to crawl through, well not without putting a few weeks of effort into it, but I could cut a hole big enough to put a wire through - or to put my horn through so I could detect if there was any electrical activity on the other side. It was taking me quite a while to make my hole too, as I was quite drained from my earlier efforts.
"Give it a break, Anne," Saffron instructed. "We can't have you burning out. Eat something and take another nap."
I pulled my head back from the plate, and noticed that apart from the glow from our Pipgirls, the room was quite dark now. No light was filtering down from above. Oh, so night had fallen?
I wasn't going to argue. In fact, I was too tired to argue. I ate the offered grass cake, supplemented by few cactus flowers, then settled onto the ground. As soon as my eyes were shut, my self appointed blanket snuggled up an spread her wing over me. It felt pleasant, cozy and .....
Someone was shaking me gently. Opening my eyes I yawned, twice for good measure, then gazed around. The light filtering from above had returned.
"Why didn't you wake me?" I asked, working my way out from under Demi's wing, then standing.
"We felt you having a good night's sleep before continuing would ultimately be quicker than letting you keep going as you were," Saffron stated. "We have enough supplies for a few days, so there is no need to panic just yet."
"Besides, the two of you looked too cute to disturb," Lee added, with a smirk.
"For that, you are making breakfast," I responded. I turned to my blanket. "Good morning, Demi. Thank you for helping me get a good night's sleep."
"You are welcome," she quietly answered, smiling.
"Call me when breakfast is ready. I have a date with a hole in a wall." With that, I returned to the panel by the doors. By the light of my Pipgirl, I could see that I had made reasonable progress the night before, for someone dead on her feet. I was about three quarters of the way though the heavy plate. I expected I would be able to finish the horn-sized hole by the time Lee managed to get breakfast ready, and knowing her, it would be some grass cakes dropped on plates. Concentrating, I bent forward, and nestled my horn into the indentation from my previous efforts. My horn glowed with its trademark honey color, and the metal around it distorted, rippling out of the way, forming a neat doughnut shaped frame around the new opening.
"Food's up!" Lee announced.
"Good. I'm rather hungry!" I stated abandoning the panel, and zeroing in on the morning meal. Sure enough, it was a grass cake sitting in the middle of a plate. Admittedly Lee had garnished it with a couple of seed pods, so it had a little flavor. I didn't take time to savor it though, washing it down with a couple swigs from my canteen.
"How long do you estimate it will be before you are through that panel?" Saffron enquired.
I gave a chuckle. "I'm already through. Now it's time for the hard part - working out how the damn thing works, and finding some sort of power feed for it."
"You were that close to finishing the hole last night?" Lee asked, somewhat surprised.
"No, the hole was that close to finishing me last night!" I laughed. "You were so right putting me to bed."
With that said, I walked back to the panel and plugged my horn into the hole. I projected my magic though, and began feeling around. I found the wires that had been cut from the original control panel. Tracing along them one at a time, I found some that ran to the door locking mechanism, and others that ran to a motor that presumably actually opened the door. That was good - sort of. What were obvious by their absence were any wires that ran to a power source. I withdrew my magic, then pulled back from the panel.
"Well folks," I announced, "I've found the mechanism, but nothing to power it with, apart from my noggin."
"Can we help?" Lee asked.
"Is there any way we could push it?" Saffron queried. He walked over to the door, and leaned his shoulder into it, pushing to see if there was a hint of movement.
"Hang on, I'll try popping the lock. Push when I say so."
I pushed my horn back into the hole in the panel, projected my magic back along the wires to the locking mechanism. Fortunately it was a basic, brute force mechanism, the security aspects being handled by the missing circuitry. I was able to work my magic around until I located a spot where I could push. With a resounding thunk, it disengaged. "Now!" I squeaked through gritted teeth, as I turned my magic to assisting with the opening of the door itself by pushing against one side of the rotor in the mechanism's motor itself. As it spun up, I could hear some amused shouts, as the others adjusted their pushing angle to something more useful as the central section of the door dropped towards the floor - not a direction any of us had foreseen. Then with the screech of rusting metal against rusting metal, the door jammed, and my pushing magic kicked back, knocking me away from the panel in an unglorified somersault.
"Bah!" I cursed from where I landed. "Did we achieve anything?"
"Sort of," Saffron said. "We have a narrow opening, and though it is tight, I think even I could fit through there, but I'll have to take my armor off and pass that though in more small-hole-friendly pieces."
"We'll fit fine." Demi laughed. "The tinies have an advantage this time!"
I sat up and looked towards the opening we had achieved. It was a small rectangle of pure blackness reaching down from the top of the door frame, to just above my height. Below it was the top of the door section that had jammed on its way into its recess in the floor. Hopefully the blackness was implying depth, because if it didn't go somewhere, we were very, very stuck. I could already picture us being found as skeletons by the next silly ponies to accidentally discover this pitfall trap.
I rose, and walked over to the door, standing on my hind legs so I could reach the opening. Immediately I was overcome by foul air from within, and sunk to the ground. "What is that stench?"
Saffron walked a little closer, and sniffed at the air for a few moments. "I can detect hints of explosives, rotting ash of long extinguished fires, metal oxidation, a bit of ozone and..... well.... probably what you were referring to.... rotten flesh or blood."
I swallowed hard, willing my breakfast to stay where I needed it. I activated my nasal filters. That would help me, but what of the others? Saffron had his helmet, and Lee had nasal filters too, if she could work out how to activate them. That just left poor Demi. I went over to my battle saddle and started rummaging through its compartments looking for some cloth I could use to fashion a crude mask for Demi. It would be better than nothing - but only just. It would filter out any particulate matter, but she'd have to put up with the stench.
"Eeew, that is totally rank," Demi stated as the stench made it to where she was sitting.
"Yay for nasal filters." Lee commented, indicating she had indeed worked out how to use hers. She had probably been practicing since our encounter with the raider camp and its rotting corpse decorations.
Already this was becoming unpleasant, and we hadn't even climbed through the hole yet.
"Someone with a light, please volunteer to go through first," Demi suggested. "I can live with the stink, but I am not being the first through a solid black window of nothingness."
"Okay, this is something I'm good at!" Lee exclaimed. "I'm happy enough to step through an air-lock and into the hard vacuum of space, and it don't get blacker and nothinger than that!"
"Could you say that again, but in Equestrian?" Saffron asked with a laugh.
"I can't wait to see you all in a life and death situation...." Demi muttered, "because you guys are a non stop laugh. It will be amusing to live through."
"That's one way of looking at it." Lee agreed. With that she stood up on her rear hooves, and used her front hooves to deftly unfasten her weaponless battle saddle, which she then carried to the door, placing it on end just below the opening. She leaned into the hole, using the light from her Pipgirl to evaluate what was beyond, before using the battle saddle as a stool to assist her in climbing through. Now, at least for us still outside, the blackness was framed in light.
"Come on in, the water's fine," her voice floated through the opening.
"Water?" the three of us chorused.
"Kidding, kidding," Lee admitted as her head and fore hooves appeared in the opening. "It's pretty much what you would expect- an old concrete and steel room. Oh, and it has what looks like a reasonable door at the other end. Come on guys, start passing your stuff through."
I unfastened my battle saddle, and levitated it over to the opening, angling it so I could get it through with a little maneuvering. Lee guided it to the floor with her hooves. Next was Demi. After reassuring her, I took her weight as she scrambled through the hole, carefully lowering her to the other side when she was through. Saffron, in the mean time, had cracked his armor, and climbed out, allowing the armor to fold itself into a neat little bundle. I levitated that through with ease. Unfortunately the same could not be said for Saffron. It was with a moderate amount of wriggling, pushing and pulling that we were finally able to get him through the mare sized opening. That left me, and levitating all of me was something that I couldn't do. I trotted the few paces back to the shaft and looked up at the tiny patch of sky far above us. Damn, that was a long way up, considering the taper of the shaft made the opening seem closer than it actually was. I could make out the broken slab of concrete too. It hadn't fallen very far at all. We had been lucky, because if it had rotated to be diagonal with respect to the hole, even unbroken, it could have easily fallen all the way to the bottom. Pony hole covers were round for a reason. That was the only shape of hole through which a lid could not fall.
I scanned the area for anything we may have left behind and found nothing, so I returned to the great doors, and our small opening through them. At the encouragement of those within, I climbed up on Lee's battle saddle, and reached through the gap, where to my surprise, I saw that Lee was still standing on just her rear hooves. She grasped me with her fore hooves and lifted me through. That left the final step of levitating Lee's battle saddle through the hole to me.
I looked around the room I found myself in. It was pretty standard Stable-Tec service area stuff. Concrete walls between steel supports, all topped off with a curved ceiling, indicating there was nothing built into the rock immediately above us. In reality, a lot of a Stable-Tec stable was just rock and soil though which wound long tunnels connecting small rooms. If they were built any other way they risked being crushed by the weight of what was above. The stench was coming through the room vents. Hopefully it wouldn't get stronger when we opened the door.
So finally after many hours we had traveled perhaps about a dozen paces, if you didn't count the very long drop at the beginning, and were probably trapped down here. Despite that we were still alive, and more or less uninjured. I guess that counted as a good day in the wasteland. Re-equiping ourselves with our battle saddles and armor, as appropriate, we prepared ourselves for exploring what may be beyond. Demi turned away any offer of a mask, but again moved up close beside me. She was putting on a brave face, but I could tell she was finding this all somewhat stressful.
Lee was still toddling around on just her rear hooves, studying the walls and doors. "Hah - I told you Equestria was part of a space ship!" she suddenly exclaimed. "We are down in it's bowels!"
I face hoofed. She was getting crazier by the day. Now she was walking around like a biped, and somehow manipulating things with her hooves with a skill greater than that of an earth pony. Perhaps she had somehow managed to access the magic of her horn without realizing it.
"Lee, don't be a nut, well don't be nuttier at any rate. This is an old underground stable," I chided her.
"We will see who is right with time," she assured me. Indeed we would.
Lee and Saffron set about opening the other door out of the room. It was somewhat smaller than the first door, indicating it was added towards the end of the stable build. It was also old and disused, and was proving to be suborn. At least it was a totally pony operated door, so brute strength was the solution. Each of them had a grasp of a lever and were pulling or pushing for what they were worth. The door mechanism was responding by letting out a loud screech.
"Is Lee like this much?" Demi quietly whispered to me.
"Unfortunately, she's got really bad over the last few days, ever since Saffron hit her."
Demi froze. I could almost feel the fear radiating from her. "You are traveling with someone who hits mares?" she whispered.
Oh, that wasn't very clever of me, was it? "Don't worry Demi. He's a very different pony to what he was three days ago," I assured her. So were Lee and I for that matter. I continued. "Back then, Saffron and his friend were our enemies, and we had a really bad fight. Believe it or not, he was on the losing side. He lost his eye, and nearly died. His friend did die. And then my mother went nuts. So to cut a long story short, we made up after he got better, I asked him to help us, and he agreed."
"So you trust him...?" Demi quietly asked. "How do you know he won't do something later?"
"He has had ample opportunity to do something already, and hasn't. The Steel Rangers I have met also take their word very seriously." I whispered as the noise Lee and Saffron were making suddenly ceased. I looked across to see they had managed to convince the door to open. What lay beyond was also dark.
"What are you two whispering about?" Saffron asked, addressing us.
"Embarrassing girl stuff," I replied in a subdued voice. Well, it would be embarrassing to be caught talking about it!
He shook his head. "You look like a pair of school girls," he commented, then turned and walked through the door.
Footnote: Maximum Level. New perk: Better sleep. When accompanied by Demi, you sleep better, wherever you are, and that makes everything 10% easier for the next eight hours.