Chapter Seven: Cryogenics 101
From the moment they set foot outside of his home, Dexter and Mr. Green had been flanked on all sides by armed guards. Even more armed guards were stationed in the hallways that were their route out of the DexLabs building, as if something dire was going to happen between the Utoniums' suite and the exit. Even the short walk out to the SUV awaiting them for their fifteen-minute journey to the day's destination was lined with a human wall of armed guards drawn from the KND, ECF, and DexLabs Security. Once in the vehicle, they were placed in between, surprise, more armed guards. Chip's revenge was complete and Kilroy Green could not voice a word of complaint.
Dexter, however, was not so hindered. He folded his arms and glowered at the crowd in the back seat. "Out!" he snapped.
One of the men grimaced. "Sir, I -"
There was a brief pause, and then both security officers beat a hasty retreat. A moment later, Sgt. Morton sat down in the driver's seat, glancing back at his charge. He took in the scene at once, immune to Dexter's laser-eyed glare, and said nothing.
Several unmarked cars holding DexLabs security personnel were stationed along their route, and a small caravan of SUVs flanked the armored vehicle on the short drive. When they arrived at their destination, they entered through a back entrance where more guards were awaiting their arrival.
"How the hell many security officers do I employ?" demanded the owner of DexCorp International.
"Not enough," his chief of security replied instantly.
Mr. Green gestured. "Language, Dexter."
"Fine. Next time I'll just curse in French. I just want to go skating and it's turning into an overtime nightmare."
As if this weren't enough, they were assured by one of the guards as they were escorted through the building, that the entire complex was swarming with plain clothes security guards with concealed weapons. It was apparent that this was the first time that the particular guard speaking to them had actually been in close proximity to his young employer, and he had no idea of the effect his words had as Dexter mournfully envisioned skyrocketing payrolls. Judging by the way he addressed Dexter, the officer had likely been stationed to guard one of the alternate entrances to DexCorp that Dexter never used.
The guard was friendly enough, but it was painfully obvious that he knew very little of Dexter as a person, how to speak to a genius, and when to shut up.
"Not even a mosquito could get past all the security we have set up here to protect you," young man said with a confident grin, aiming to quell the nonexistent fears that the child before him might be masking. Mr. Green and Dexter made eye contact briefly, both trying not to laugh at the well-meaning guard. Even the other guards were casting brief glances at the chatterbox, each other, and the due they were escorting as if to say, "Oh, brother."
"No, sir-ee! Don't you worry a lick!" The guard chuckled. "You just enjoy your day."
"Thank you, officer," Kilroy said kindly as they reached the doors to their reserved area. "I'm certain that Dexter feels quite safe and secure in the capable hands of you and your comrades."
Dexter had to somewhat duck behind the demon as the guard grinned and saluted. Kilroy whisked the double doors open and as soon as they were shut, the two snickered.
"What am I, seven?" Dexter snorted. "A mosquito? Clearly he's never met Mr. Mosco."
"I guess he doesn't see much action at his usual post," Green chuckled. "At least he was nice and he meant well."
Dexter shrugged and shook his head. He was quite used to having an army of security accompanying him every time he set foot outside his lab. "I'm sure his peers will eat him alive." Behind tinted glasses, Dexter's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "There's an ambulance on standby within a block of here, isn't there," Dexter more stated than asked with a slightly amused smirk.
"Oh, come now, Dexter. That's silly," his teacher snorted.
"Is it, now, Mr. Green?" Dexter asked, raising an eyebrow skeptically.
"Okay. I suppose it's not entirely improbable," said Kilroy. His pupil's eyebrow climbed higher as he crossed his arms.
"Alright. Knowing your father, I wouldn't completely rule out the possibility."
"You're setting a poor example blatantly lying to your student, Mr. Green," Dexter said smugly. Kilroy smirked back.
"Forget on this block. It's been moved to wait at the nearest exit to the rink by now," Green said, crossing his arms as well, matching his student's smug stance.
Dexter let out a small chuckle. He was far over fearing for his own safety, and the awkwardness and stress of being constantly surrounded by people trained to kill in the blink of an eye had worn off. People had been 'reassuring' him for a long time now, and, if anything, such attempts at 'reassuring' him that he was safe were just plain annoying. He wasn't scared, and all the 'reassurances' did was to remind him that he would never have a moment of peace outside the lab without an army watching him like a hawk.
"Shall we get started then?" Green asked. Dexter nodded eagerly, the annoyance of being under constant guard forgotten in favor of savoring a rare and much needed day's retreat from the confines of his lab.
"Is deoxyribonucleic acid a double helix?" Dexter replied.
"As far as known life forms native to earth, sans perhaps Ben Tennyson on occasion, yes," Kilroy chuckled.
"Then you have your answer, Mr. Green!" Dexter said with pleased finality at getting the last word.
Today was going to be a good day for Dexter, Kilroy thought to himself as he from the corner of his eye he watched Dexter rummage through his bag. He got to get out of the lab with his favorite teacher and spend most of the day running experiments for the landing gear for the August on the ice. The experiments were to take place in one of the three separate, full-sized ice skating arenas attached to the massive Downtown Fitness Complex. Green had reserved an entire arena so that they would have one of the three rinks all to themselves, and glaring guards with guns at the doors ensured there would be no onlookers. This gave them freedom and privacy, so not only could Dexter and Mr. Green work on the day's classroom lesson, but Dexter could learn to ice skate without the stress of attracting unwanted spectators. Then, as the icing on the cake, once they had wrapped things up at the rink, it was back to the lab just in time to greet Dexter's aforementioned cherished friend Ben Tennyson as he and his grandfather arrived from Bellwood to represent the Plumbers as DexLabs prepared to unveil the jump platform transport system.
A field trip, an opportunity for science, a new experience, and the promise of companionship of a close friend later in the afternoon; today was a fine day to be Dexter. And considering he'd made it to work without being accosted by any tubular red demons, was well caffeinated, and was wearing underwear, it was an equally fine day to be Kilroy Green.
He raised an eyebrow as his pupil removed his brand new skates from his bag and headed straight toward the ice.
"Dexter . . ." Green called, quickly lacing and tying his own skates into place and rising to follow his pupil. "Those work best on your feet, you know."
"Ja, ja, I know that," Dexter said as his teacher caught up with him.
"Of course you do." Kilroy chuckled softly and motioned to the skates in Dexter's hands. "Alright then, enlighten me, boy genius, on your intent here."
"My intent is simple, Mr. Green," Dexter said as he pushed open the heavy barrier between the rubbery flooring and the ice."I'm sciencing."
Cautiously, he stepped out onto the ice in his lab boots, sliding his feet to test the treads on his boots. Satisfied, he gingerly made his way toward the center of the ice. Pulling the covers off his own skates' blades, Kilroy glided along a few feet behind him, watching his pupil with interest. There was no telling what the boy was up to.
He lunged forward when, at the center of the ice, Dexter flopped down gracelessly to his knees. For one awful, Morton-triumphant-filled moment of panic, Green thought Dexter had fallen until he observed the redhead lower himself down to lie on his stomach. He rested his chin on his arm and, with his free hand, picked up one of his skates and lowered its blade to touch the ice.
Like a child playing with a toy car, Dexter slid the skate back and forth, his eyes studying as it glided on the ice.
Though Kilroy would never say so out loud, he was witnessing by far the cutest example of a genius scientist hard at work that ever there was. There was a vast intellect contained within this cute, fiery, short, blue-eyed, red-headed boy of thirteen, and this behavior was not 'playing', as it appeared to be. Dexter was, in fact, analyzing the movement of the metal on the ice.
However, that wasn't to say that Dexter wasn't enjoying himself at the same time, just as his tutor enjoyed watching him. Suddenly, Dexter turned to him. His blue eyes were ablaze with adventurous curiosity, and Kilroy Van Green knew the scientific tear had commenced.
"Friction," stated Green. "Allows the metal blade to cut through the top layer of the ice and liquify it. Force moves the metal, and the water refreezes behind it."
"It does?" wondered Dexter, peering at the ice.
"Yes. The harder and smoother the ice, the faster you can go with less energy used."
Dexter digested these facts for a few seconds. "Mr. Green, may I request your assistance?"
"You most certainly may," Kilroy said, taking this as a cue to skate up beside his student. "How can I help?"
"I need to borrow your feet," Dexter said, completely serious.
"So long as I get them back at the end of the day," he teased.
"But of course," Dexter said in turn. Still parked on the ice, apparently immune to the cold, he studied Green's skates intently. "Yours are different than mine."
"I'm wearing hockey skates. What you have in your hand is a figure skate. Look at the front of the blade. That serrated edge is what's known as toe picks. They're used for certain jumps and fancy footwork."
"The blade on mine is comparatively longer."
"Yes. The blades on mine are also wider, for quick turns and speed. I have goalie skates, too, which are different from these. They're not made for speed, just for moving side to side in the crease."
"The space in front of the hockey goal."
Dexter frowned, intrigued at a hitherto unknown vocabulary. Green knew perfectly well that this teenager's knowledge of sports was practically non-existent. "I have much to learn. Meanwhile, I wish to conduct some further observations before I attempt trials of my own," the boy explained. "It's one thing to watch an empty skate. I want to track the various motions of the blade when there's some weight in it. How fast can you skate, Mr. Green?"
"Fast enough," Green answered, hearing the challenge and excitement in Dexter's voice.
"What about jumping? I also need to observe and collect data on the blades impacting the ice as they would in both runway and hovering landings; and the imposed variables such as speed, friction, and resistance; and I also would like to observe and collect data with varied angles of impact and blade tilt, if that is possible. Are you capable of such a demonstration without risk of injury?" Dexter asked.
He smiled, as excited as his student. "Let me do a few warm-up laps. Meanwhile, gear up, Boy Genius."