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Auto Shop Blues (IC)


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April 17, 2011

Lazarus Auto Repair, Midtown

4:00 PM

Corbin could've sworn the black sedan had come out of nowhere, roaring out of that alley like hell was following it. He'd been out trying to find a nice gift for Quo-Dis, something both elegant...and somewhat hardy (exceptional strength did breed a tendency to prefer robust items). The speeding car had clipped his Mercedes, putting an absolutely beautiful dent in the left rear door. Actually, upon hindsight he was rather lucky, a few seconds earlier and that dent would have been in the driver's side door, and he'd have been one unhappy camper.

Still, it wasn't all bad. He'd gotten lucky, and just down the street a piece was an auto body shop; Lazarus Auto Repair. "Resurrections done cheap", the sign in the window said. If everything went well, he might have that dent rolled out and be back home in time for dinner. He pulled the car up to the curb and stepped out, walking through the main doors and into a surprisingly empty office.

For a moment, he considered finding another repair, when an idle glance into the garage spotted the supine figure, in a somewhat familiar longcoat and scarf, lying beside a metal trapdoor on the floor. Unfortunately, what really drew the eye was the small blood trail leading from the back door to the man...

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Corbin had made sure to call his parents after seeing the dent (and taking a couple of pictures with his phone). They hadn't been really happy, but they said it would be alright. There wasn't much he could do about the other driver, and since it was pretty clear he wasn't at fault, his insurance would be fine. He'd told them he was going to try finding a body shop on his way home, since the dent wasn't too major.

His choice had seemed fine at first. The situation quickly grew complicated, though.

Concern flashing over his face, he dashed over to the man on the ground, stopping himself before touching the man. Who know how bad he was hurt?

"Sir, can you hear me? I'll call 911, but I need you to tell me roughly how badly you're hurt, so they can prepare better."

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Push's mind was swimming somewhat as he tried to force his body to move. The spot where the security console was open right near his hand, he could reach out and touch it, he had reached out and put in the codes to open up the basement, but he just couldn't drag himself down the stairs. It just seemed like so much effort. The hole in his shoulder was still a screaming mass of pain, of course, but he took some small comfort in that. At least he hadn't gone into shock yet.

The sound of a voice caused him to turn his head, and he looked at the new arrival over his scarf with an odd detachment. Lifting the other arm, he slowly rolled himself over to get a better view, although his vision was a tad blurry. Upon the view of Push's front, it became apparent to Corbin that someone had been having himself an interesting day, judging by the bullet hole in his right shoulder. His scarf still covered half of his face, and Push's eyes, not yet glazed, tilted his head at the somewhat familiar voice. He shook it, trying to clear his thoughts; particularly when the new arrival mentioned 911.

"Not yet...need to...restart security system first...keep them out..."

He shook his head again, try as he might to get a whole sentence out, it kept garbling in his mouth. Push motioned to the metal trapdoor, which was standing open beside the two. His head weakly popped up as the sounds of multiple automobiles could be heard. Approaching the auto shop.


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Corbin kept his calm, especially once it was clear the man was not in an immediately life-threatening condition. He glanced at the nearby console, then back at the wounded hero.

"Tell me the code. I'll get us secured, and we can call the police. You're in no condition to fight."

The fact that Corbin could likely keep the two of them totally safe wasn't really the issue at the moment. He'd rather not reveal his powers just yet if he didn't have to.

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Push shook his head, motioning at the stairs, and winced.

"Console...downstairs in the basement. Library. Code is..."

He looked somewhat reluctant, then nodded.

"Anastasia. September 24, 2009. It'll lock down the whole...building...ok, that's a lot of my blood..."

The sound of cars screeching to a halt outside caused him to reach for his hammer, but it was, sadly, out of his reach. The kineticist cursed.

"Damnit...faster than I thought."

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Corbin turned towards the sound of the sedans screeching to a halt, and frowned.

"הקללה הזו להפוך מצערת של ×ירועי×"

In moments, he'd noted the position of all the doors. He raised his right hand, the one with the ring, and pointed it at the garage doors.

In the next instant, there was a block of blue material that almost looked like metal covering both doors; it appeared to be a couple of feet thick. A similar impediment was over each of the smaller person-sized doors. Finally, a thinner covering went over Push, as a sort of final precaution.

Corbin himself was already down the stairs, a faint trail of energy following after him. He was almost immediately within the library, and was at the desk, typing in the command phrase. Hopefully he'd be fast enough he could let his constructs go before the thugs really saw them. Bad enough he'd basically outed his identity to Push.

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Sound echoed in Corbin's ears as he finished typing in the phrase, the slamming of metal sheets and the thrum of electricity, mixed in with an unfamiliar supernatural feeling. An abrupt shift, and he suddenly felt the ring go completely inert. He felt his constructs above shudder and vanish, shortly before the sound of more metal slamming into place. A groan from outside the room drew his attention, and a quick check revealed Push sitting at the top of the small staircase, right underneath the steel trapdoor, which was now closed shut with metal bands across it; the bands inscribed with strange runes.

"Owe you...big-time. Thanks."

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"Do you need me to call the cops? Or do we just sit down here until they're gone?"

For a moment, Corbin didn't turn around. Instead, he frowned, staring at his ring. He then turned to the runes on the trap door, nodding his head towards them as he spoke.

"Interesting runes. Don't recognize them off-hand, which actually says something. They do anything special? Or is it just for show?"

He looked around before walking over to a chair and settling down.

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Push shook his head, carefully making his way down the steps. He halted at the bottom of them, looking at his surprise houseguest, then at himself, and came to a decision. He then slapped a hand on one brick; runes of a similar nature appeared all over the basement walls, flaring briefly before winking out. A rush of energy returned to Corbin, and he felt the ring return to normal. Push seemed to ponder the first question, but answered the second instead.

"Wards. Had a friend put them up after...ugh. Demon attack some months back. Locks down anything magic or divine...well, at least anything that isn't strong enough to kick down the doors outright. They'd need...high explosives to get in. Probably blow themselves up in process, Warlock's...pretty good at rigging runes. And his friend who rigged the security knows her stuff. Problem is...I got something they want."

The kineticist seemed to be rallying, whether due to shock or his own fortitude was a bit tough to tell. He stumbled and toppled onto the couch, looking at his shoulder with some detachment. Keep talking. Keeps you conscious. Focusfocusfocusfocus... The idea of police poking around was...unappealing, to say the least. AEGIS could step in, but it'd be a royal pain in the neck, and he'd likely have to move house if they came. He reached under the couch and pulled out a first aid kit, beginning to work on his shoulder.

"Sorry you got mixed up in this, mate. Don't know...who you are, but thanks."

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Corbin breathes a sigh of relief as his power returned to him. He hadn't noticed it at first, but even the power innate to his body had seemed...muted. Now, he once more had the fires of Heaven coursing through his veins. He fiddled with the ring as he spoke.

"Wards, huh? By someone named Warlock? Sounds like he's a fellow who knows his stuff. As for needing high explosives...I hate to say this, but do we have any guarantee they don't have something like that? I mean, you make it sound like whatever it is you have, it's pretty important.

As for getting me mixed up in this? Don't fret. It's Freedom City. It doesn't happen every day, but I've seen my share of weird things."

He stood and walked over to Push, pausing a couple of feet away.

"Do you need help with that? And...I was serious about the cops. We're kind of stuck here. I'd rather they not have the time to try something to get down to us. They're locked out...but we're also locked in."

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Push reached into his coat pocket and slapped a CD on the table, motioning to it.

"Surveillance info for...well, some important people. Thugs outside figured out they were being watched and took it, didn't want their operation busted up. And guess who got tagged for retrieval."

The kineticist finished winding the bandage around his shoulder and hit a button on the remote in front of him. The TV on the table before the two heroes switched on, showing four screens. One showed the interior of the garage, which was mercifully empty; Corbin's constructs had obviously held the thugs out until they'd hit the security system. Another showed the office, which was also empty. The third was that of a brick tunnel and a ladder going up, although the camera had a greenish tint due to the dark down below. Finally, the last looked at the exterior of the LAIR from what appeared to be a building across the street. What they saw was not exactly pleasant. It appeared that numerous black cars had driven up, and the thugs outside were arguing over what to do next. Push rubbed his chin, watching them briefly.

"If the police come, that'll raise a lot of questions about the auto repair...and my commlink was busted in the fight. Greeeat..." He sighed and started winding the bandages around the shoulder wound, motioning with his head to a small radio in the corner.

"Alright, FYI, that's no ordinary radio. I have to finish winding this, but I know some people who can back us up. Hit the top button, that'll switch it on, then go to channel AEG11. Ask for Mr. Black."

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"Hn. Lucky you, seems like."

Corbin was studying the monitors with a frown.

"There's a lot of them out there. Let's hope they're all dumb."

When his host begins giving instructions, Corbin nods and strides over to the radio. He takes a moment to simply study the interface, before nodding and making the directed adjustments.

"Yes, I'd like to speak to Mr. Black, please."

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Agent Kent looked at his radio with a raised eyebrow, before speaking into his own. He'd recieved a notice that Push's security system had gone into lockdown, and while that had happened earlier, both times it had been situations he'd been able to deal with himself, so for the most part he'd been unconcerned. But now an unfamiliar voice was speaking on the tight-band channel between his office and the L.A.I.R. This was...questionable.

A gravelly voice replied from the radio after a few moments, clipped and concise in tone and word. "Identify yourself, please."

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"My name is Corbin Hughes. I came to this auto shop unaware of its more...exotic...nature. I was driving a blue Mercedes-Benz sedan. I have the man who I assume is the owner of this location with me. There are several presumably criminal men outside. Let me see if he can speak on the phone."

With that, Corbin covers the mouthpiece and turns to Push, his expression somewhat desperate.

"Uh...Would you mind talking to this guy?"

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Push grunted as he pulled the bandage taut with his teeth, somewhat irrationally irritated with his contact, and at himself. Of course he should've called himself, but he thought plugging the hole in his shoulder would...keh. Turning and looking over his shoulder at the radio, he called in a louder voice.

"Keh. Black! I'm busy putting my shoulder back together! Don't worry, he's clued!"

The voice at the other end of the reciever stayed quiet for a moment, then Corbin heard an "Acknowledged" from the earpiece. A few seconds passed, then the gravelly voice spoke again, a tad politer this time.

"Mr. Hughes, would you mind explaining how the situation you are in came to pass in a bit more detail, as quickly as possible?"

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Corbin managed to keep from making any obvious sound that betrayed how nervous he was.

"I was driving back to my home not too far from this location, when I was clipped by a black car. The body damage wasn't extensive, and I all but stumbled over Lazarus Auto Repair. I pulled up and entered the shop with no signs of anything odd. However, I then saw this gentleman on the floor, blood on the ground under him, a hole in his shoulder. At that time, I also noticed the various criminals outside, all of whom seemed to have hostile intent. I was instructed on the procedure to activate the security systems, and I did so as quickly as possible. They were activated, and...that's pretty much everything. I'd say it's been 10 or so minutes since I first pulled up here."

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The voice on the other end remained quiet, before another question was heard from the reciever. The voice this time was warmer, though, for all it's gravelly tones.

"If that's the case, you did good, Mr. Hughes. Just to get the rest out of the way, I am Mr. Black, I work for AEGIS, and you just walked into an operation that's very nearly gone all kinds of bollixed up through no fault of your own."

Agent Kent stroked his chin, looking at the radio with some trepidation. From what he'd been told, they'd have to act fast, and he'd already scrambled agents to contain the situation. Hopefully Push recovered the disk, with that they could clear out the whole operation and make some long-awaited arrests. If they could get him out of there...

"Mr. Hughes, I hate to request this of a civilian, but due to the unique circumstances I believe it is neccessary. Could you aid in keeping the individual and diskette in that basement safe until help arrives? I'll do what I can to help from here, although it won't be much."

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"I'm relieved to hear I'm shouldering no blame. I figured you worked for one agency or another, what with all this stuff going on."

Corbin didn't let the full measure of his relief shine through. They didn't harbor any suspicion about his other identity. Which was good. Of course, things weren't done with yet...

"Well. I'll do what I can. I can't say I'm your best, first choice. I mean, I'm just a teenager. But I'll do everything I can. We should be safe down here, right? I mean, he's got those metal doors up top, and then these big metal doors. No worries, right?"

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"We have the building on satellite right now, it looks as if the criminals are scattering. Some seem to be moving underground, into the sewer system, while others appear to be taking up positions in buildings nearby. We can only surmise on how much they know of the building's defenses, but we are moving agents to assist as fast as humanly possible. Simply stay put, ensure the man inside does not bleed out or go unconscious, and should they bring up sufficient materials to break in...we'll figure that one out when we come to it. Black out."

Push rolled his eyes at the agent's pun, overhearing it from the couch, and finished winding up the bandage, poking at where the wound was with some disgust.

"Well, you heard the man, pull up a chair and get comfy. This could take a while."

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"Understood, Mr. Black. I'll do everything I can. Mr. Hughes, uh, out."

With that, he walked away from the radio, grabbing a chair and pulling it closer to Push. He didn't sit down immediately, though. He took to walking around the room, eying the books on the shelf for the most part.

"So. Is the auto mechanic thing just a cover? Or do you actually like working on cars? I mean, being a superhero must be pretty exciting, and if you work with AEGIS, surely you get some compensation."

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