Daniela pulled at the suit, ensuring that it was completely covering Duncan. She started checking around his neck and under his arms, pulling him this way and that, quietly assessing him the whole time.
“Would you stop fussing, woman.” Duncan scolded her. “The suit moulds to our bodies, remember? You designed them that way. There’s nothing uncovered.”
“I’m just making sure.” She murmured, “Stay still.”
“Have you once found a suit with a gap?” Duncan asked.
“No, but I’ve also never exposed the person to what I’m about to, so you’ll excuse me if I appear a little more meticulous this time.”
“And the suits will sustain it?” Kelly asked from where she stood across the room.
“That’s the plan,” Daniela said, moving down to his legs. “We’ve only tested it on dummies so far, but it’s been a 100% success rate, which is the only reason I’m considering this experiment.”
Daniela had made her way up Duncan’s inner thigh and suddenly realised she was now at his groin. She blushed.
“If you wanted to examine the goods, you didn’t need to use a feeble excuse like a science experiment, you know.”
Duncan was grinning down at her and she rolled her eyes in response, briefly checking the groin area before making her way onto the other leg.
“Okay, you’re good.” Daniela announced. “Jensen?”
“Connor’s good too.” Jensen reported.
Daniela took a deep breath and made her way back to her work station. Examining the computer once more.
“Everything looks fine here.” She said. “I guess there’s nothing else to do but to enter the box.”
Duncan saluted Daniela and threw her a reassuring wink. “No problem, babes. It will be a breeze.”
“Literally, I hope.” Connor added.
Both Duncan and Connor walked into the transparent box in the middle of the room. Once they had assumed the correct position, side by side, Duncan gave the okay sign.
“Okay guys,” Daniela said, ignoring the nerves creeping up inside. She took a deep breath and tried to level her heart beat. “You know the drill. The moment you begin to feel any kind of discomfort, you say. I don’t want any of you to try and wait it out. This isn’t what this test is about. We need fast results. We’re aiming for no effect at all, so if it starts to get the least bit hot…”
“We get it,” Duncan interrupted her. “We’ll call. Don’t worry yourself babes.”
“Duncan, we’ve talked about that word.” Daniela said.
“Sorry hun,” Duncan grinned.
“Here goes nothing.” She said and hit the activate button.
Immediately the box began to heat up, the heaters glowing red all around Duncan and Connor. Daniela watched the temperature, her hand on the circular button.
“Okay, we’re starting nice and easy now, on 37 degrees Celsius.” Daniela gave a quick prayer and began to rotate the button. “Raising to 48 degrees… 50… 60… How are we doing in there?”
“Nothing to report.” Connor said. “I’m feeling perfectly fine.”
“Duncan?” Daniela asked.
“Stuck staring at you for an afternoon? Couldn’t be better.”
“A simple ‘fine’ would have sufficed.” Daniela said. “Raising the temperature further, 70 degrees… 80… 90…. Hitting boiling point… 100 degrees. Still okay?”
“No change in the temperature from my end.” Connor said.
“Nothing here,” Duncan said. “Are you sure you’ve got these heating things on?”
“Trust me, they’re on.”
“Wow.” Duncan let out a low whistle. “Why hadn’t you received a Nobel Prize yet?”
“That’s a question I asked people daily.” Daniela answered. “We’re about to hit 200 degrees… 250… 300…”
“What’s the temperature out there again?” Connor asked.
“We’ve clocked it at 550 degrees Celsius.” Kelly replied.
“Hitting 400 degrees now.” Daniela announced. “450 degrees… 500… 550… 600. And we’ve beaten the outside temperature. Keeping at 600 degrees to monitor long-standing effects.”
“We’re really standing in 600 degrees of heat?” Duncan asked. “I don’t feel anything.”
“The suits are holding all of the heat. They’re a little thicker than we had hoped as a result, but they should still allow for flexibility.”
“We have tests out in the field, this afternoon.” Kelly said. “Everyone will be required to complete necessary tasks in the suits to ensure they are suitable for long track scouting.”
“I’ll be coming to observe.” Daniela said. “The suits should hold, but if there’s anything uncomfortable about them, I might be able to adjust them slightly.”
“Your help would be much appreciated.” Kelly said, her tone as business like as she had been since Daniela’s first night back in Utopia.
“Boys?” Daniela called out. “Still holding on okay?”
“If anything, I feel a little chilly.” Duncan said, rubbing his arms together in an act of keeping in the heat.
Daniela couldn’t help but smile and welcomed the wide grin from him, her smile had caused.
“Er, guys?” A voice came from the door to the lab, Daniela turned to see Christiana standing in the entrance, looking incredibly awkward.
“Christiana?” Daniela asked in shock. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to collect you.” Christiana announced. “Your session starts in 10 minutes.”
Daniela stomach did a flip, as it always did when she was due for another therapy session. She had completely forgotten about it today though. Her mind completely pre-occupied with the experiment at hand.
“We’re going to need another 20 minutes.” Kelly announced.
“Sorry, I’m all out of favours for you.” Christiana replied.
“It’s fine, Jensen can keep a log of what happens.” Daniela said, eager to prevent another bust up between Christiana and everyone else she worked with. She turned back to the guys in the box. Duncan was examining his hands in the suit. Connor was looking at Christiana longingly. Without looking, Daniela was certain that Christiana would be looking at every single spot in the room other than where he was.
“Jensen’s taking over.” Daniela announced to the men. “I’ll be back in just over an hour. Please remember to speak up the moment you feel any discomfort.”
“We’re fine, go and offload about how awesome I am.” Duncan said.
Daniela ignored him and followed Christiana out of the lab.
“I’m glad you came and got me.” Daniela said as they made their way through the lobby. “I would have completely forgotten otherwise.”
“I figured as much when Jason told me what you were doing today.” Christiana said, giving her a smile. “You doing okay?”
Daniela shrugged. “I’m okay, I guess. Having this project to keep my mind busy is really helping.”
“Even though it was forced on you.”
“I feel a lot better about the mission now,” Daniela reassured Christiana. “The suits have come along so far in the past couple of weeks. It’s been surprisingly easy actually. I keep on expecting something to go wrong, but it just keeps on working.” She paused for a moment, seeing the lost look in Christiana’s face and she stared at the ground. “I think it’s going to be okay. This mission. It’s not nearly as unsafe as I thought it was going to be at the beginning.”
“It’s still less safe than staying put.” Christiana argued but immediately changed the subject. “I hear you’re making awesome progress in your sessions!”
Daniela gave a small smile. “Claire’s been really great actually. She’s letting me work through the whole thing in my own way. I still get panicky and can’t stand to be alone, but I’m taking what she says on board and hopefully things will get better.”
“It’s going to take time.” Christiana encouraged her. “But I do believe that you’ll get there. You’re practically a different person already and it’s only been just over two weeks.”
“I think a lot of it has had to do with me being so busy.” Daniela said. “I just hope I can continue getting better once they all head out. Not to mention the fact that Duncan will be with them.”
“I thought he said that he wasn’t going to go?” Christiana asked.
“I convinced him otherwise.” Daniela said. “I figured it was what he wanted and what he was good at so I couldn’t ask him not to… Oh, sorry.”
Daniela kicked herself. She glanced at Christiana to check if she was upset by her comment. Christiana just smiled back.
“Don’t apologise.” She said. “Connor and I are completely different. It was long coming, I guess.” She stopped outside a door. “And we’re here!” She gave Daniela a hug. “Enjoy yourself, get everything off your chest and we’re still on for drinks on Friday?”
“Of course.” Daniela said. “See you soon.”
Christiana threw her another smile and walked back the way she came.