1964-03-05 - Pushing Buttons
Summary: As thanks, Maximus sends Strange a parcel containing a mysterious gadget — with no instructions.
Related: Fresh Air and Incoming Storms
Theme Song: None
strange maximus 


((Maximus tagged by proxy of his crazy widget!))

A day later, after the saving bit, a package is delivered to Strange. It does say, "Thank you. - Maximus" on it, so he knows who it is from. However, there is no indication of what it is. Upon opening the package, there is a 12" metal tube inside it, with wires popping out here and there, and two buttons on it. One button is red. The other button is yellow. There are seams in the tube, which is about 3 inches in diameter, indicating that certain parts of it may move, or open. There is no instruction sheet whatsoever."

*

A package. Dubious, at first, the Sorcerer takes it to the living room and sets it upon one of the side tables. Specifically, within the confines of a circular protective rune inscribed into the wood itself that flares brightly once the package is within its center. Strange can reach through the projected Mystical forcefield encircling the box, but nothing can escape. He's dealt with enough random parcels with random contents, some one could deem mortally interesting.

The foot-long metal tube is novel. Not a telescope, not…well, it could retract and elongate, theoretically, but — buttons. Wiring? Tilting his head to one side, he glances over at the silvery wards, watchdogs of the Sanctum proper.

"If something goes wrong, go get Wanda. Immediately." The faint chime of acknowledgment comes back to his mind. "Red or…yellow?" The spells are spells and have no inclination to pick a color; they communicate back nothing but a reflection of his own curiosity. He wrinkles his nose. "And I bet he didn't send any instructions deliberately, that mad bastard."

Fine. Yellow it is. Readying his fingers by wiggling them, Strange reaches through the spell-walls and depresses the yellow button — and yanks his hand back as fast as he can manage.

*

Upon hitting the yellow button, there is an electrical sound, and one of the compartments sniks open. A small, metal length comes out of the slot with another click, and then that piece has an even smaller metal flap that folds out. It folds out in a way that suggests it would touch a hand that was holding it. There's a moment of hesitation when it does nothing, but then it clearly courses with electricity. Stephen, being the smart person he is, would recognize that someone holding the rod and being touched by the metal strip, before the electricity started, would merely be a conduit, rather than receiving a shock.

*

"Oooookay," Strange murmurs, his hands still fists before him in unconscious readiness to defend in the case of a more extreme reaction. The argent guard-spells swirl closer to the protective rune and hover at its very edges, intrigued for the sake of their intentions written into their being by their master. "Back up," he commands and they retreat to his shoulder politely.

The quiet hum of electricity flowing through the metallic extensions is enough to make him properly wary. Conducting power is an art in its own; he'd know. Interesting though. It could be used as a baton, powered by said shock, wielded by the user — but that's if connection is constantly kept. Otherwise…ow.

"Alright, then…back to how it was before." Another carefully-angled finger aims to depress the yellow button again, pointedly avoiding going near enough to the buzzing extensions, and again, yanks his hand away at high speed.

*

Instead of retracting, pressing the button a second time, causes another small panel to slide open on the device. This one causes a small burst of electrical fire, enough to make a faint smoke cloud, and then across that cloud there is definitely some sort of light being projected against the cloud. Currently, the light is in the blue spectrum.

*

Thank goodness the rune's walls keep the smoke from spreading further. Squinting, Strange leans in closer. There is something being shown upon the cloud, its source in the cooler hues of the visible spectrum. He can't tell if there's an image.

"What do you make of that…?" His question is quiet, meant for no one in particular. The wards slip up beside him and shift about. They emit mild surprise and the sense of continuing on. It's not quite I dare you to touch it again, but they do mimic their master's subconscious mind well enough. "Not with my hands though." Glancing around, he finds a pencil. Holding it, he pushes the writing utensil through the spell-barrier and against the yellow button again. Third time's the charm, right?

*

Now the contraption entirely returns to normal with a series of clicks that somehow manage to sound petulant. Click click click click click. snik. It sits there innocently.

*

Tilting his head to one side with a shrug of his shoulders, Strange pulls back the pencil. "Alright, so…that's what the yellow button does." He eyes said button before his eyes narrow. Cautious confidence makes him use the pencil once more to depress the other button, the one in hues akin to the crimson Cloak, hanging upstairs in silent mimicry of sleep.

*

Pressing the red button seems to do nothing at all. Nothing happens.

*

His brows knit together. That was…incredibly anti-climactic. Even the silvery ward spells seem a bit perturbed, shifting to the other side of his shoulders and sinuously winding in a confined circle.

"You've got to be kidding me," he mutters. "No, that can't be. The yellow button had two separate settings." With the blunt eraser end of the pencil, he pokes at the red button again — forcefully.

*

Aggressively, forcefully, nothing happens.

*

Force is clearly not the answer in this case. Withdrawing the pencil from the rune's force-field, Strange taps the writing utensil against his chin. He still leans in close, staring thoughtfully at the button in question. Seams…the other button cued up the odd electrical wiring and then the smoke business.

Third time's the charm, come on. He places the eraser against the red button a last time and pushes it…gently.

*

Nothing continues to happen. It could be that the red button does not operate anything while the device is off.

*

The red button, singularly, has defeated the old adage involving charms and doing things thrice in a row. With a frustrated huff, he straightens up and considers the next options. Pressing…both at once! With another pencil, now one in each hand, two erasers cross the barrier and depress both round switches at the exact same moment.

*

ROLL: Rosemarie +rolls 1d20 for a result of: 14

*

ROLL: Rosemarie +rolls 1d20 for a result of: 11

*

Two pronged pencil attack! The same hatch that opened before, opens again, and flips out the little arm, before becoming electrically active. Pressing the red button at the same time, causes there to be a click click whir sound from the red button's side of the tube. Something it active inside, but there's no open hatch to see what.

*

"Oooooooh." If he could see himself right now, fiddling with mystery dials on a metal tube currently humming with electricity — Strange would laugh himself silly. Even Wanda might crack a smile, but then the Apocalypse would happen. Or the Sorcerer would be so distracted by the sight that he'd accidentally catch himself on the charged metallic arm. Bzzt.

So, clearly, the next option is to press the red button again. Press!

*

Strange may extrapolate from the lack of it doing anything different, that perhaps the red button is the grand finale. They don't call him Maximus the Mad for nothing!

*

"Oh, for crying out — Maximus." He says the Inhuman's name in a low growl. There's not many combinations left to the buttons at this point. So, if yellow plus red equals electrical widget plus whirring sound, but red again doesn't do anything else…

With the other pencil, he presses the yellow button once more, expecting the puff of cloudy smoke and blue light emitting from somewhere on the metal tube.

*

Yes! That is exactly what happens. The puff of smoke…the light playing across it, again in blue. It runs like that for a few seconds, but not detecting any hand, in place, to complete the circuit, it makes a zzt sound and then folds all up again. Click click click click snik. Innocent.

*

Okay, it did as expected, but now it's not doing anything again and the Sorcerer is staring at it with narrowed eyes. Most sentient beings tend to scurry off when subjected to the look; the less-intelligent ones scatter simply because the glare is threatening. The metal tube? It would probably flip him the bird given its druthers.

"I don't want to touch it like that though," he grumbles, setting aside the pencils. Wiggling his fingers, he rolls his lips…and then reaches towards the yellow button. Pausing just outside the runic protection, he glances to the silvery wards. "Get Wanda if anything goes wrong," he repeats sternly. The spells ring agreement. He then reaches through and grasps the rod just down from the yellow button. Depressing said button, he grimaces and readies himself.

*

Click, out folds the metal arm and it rests against Strange's hand, gently, almost…affectionately. And he cannot really feel the current that starts after a moment's time. Only hear that something inside the device is operating.

*

"Alright, well…I'm not dead," he comments after letting out a heavy sigh. The wards watch, hyper-attentive to him and his state. Heartbeat seems normal, he can still breathe — must continue on. Watching the metallic arm, he depresses the red button again.

*

Yep, something turns on again, though it doesn't actually do anything obvious. Just…something running inside the little device.

*

"Hmm." The electrical flow is so faint as to barely be noticeable. The yellow button again would cause the smoke and flash of blue light. Oh, gods below, might as well push that yellow button one more time. After all, the red button another time does nothing at all.

*

Dr. Stephen Strange, Sorcerer Supreme, full of curiosity for the world and blessed with such an opportunity to curse himself for it, activates the mysterious device! Achievement unlocked! From the Mad King who brought the world 'Attack Snow Leopards', and 'Terrigenesis Bombs'! There is a puff of smoke, and the light starts out as blue as it plays over the smoke, but then it changes, warms to green, then to yellow, and stays there. Finally the device says, in Maximus' voice, "No demonic control present." And then shuts off. Perhaps, having determined his own bodily changes during the event, he concocted his very own demon possession detector, utilizing electrical current, because apparently demon possessed bodies conduct electricity differently, and body temperature.

*

But not a curse! Instead a gift and after Maximus's voice fades away and the metal tube stops whirring, there's a moment of still silence. Then the living room is filled with belling laughter, relieved in tone.

"Oh gods below…" Strange sets down the metal tube within the runic circle and steps back. Flexing his hand proves no lingering effects and he nods to himself, still grinning lop-sidedly. "What a mad man." He glances at the silvery spells. "Look at that, you didn't have to go get Wanda." As if the wards have any sentience to be thrilled about this, but they do swirl up and down in a mirroring of their master's contentment in such a thing.

The metal rod is boxed up and carefully stowed away upstairs in the Loft, next to the First Aid Kit. Because that's where a Demon Possession Detector goes. Obviously.

*

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