Lara nodded politely to those that greeted her as she hurried through the passages toward her chamber. The moment she entered through the doorway, she pressed a button in the wall and the clamshell-shaped door lowered from the ceiling and clamped in place, a green and yellow light blinking as it awaited its next command. Casting herself upon the high hard bed, Lara squeezed her eyes shut and blocked out the views of the roomy metal chamber and the hovering droids. She had spoken so boldly before Jir-An, but would she have the courage to speak so before her father, before the council, if necessary? She hadn't been sure what she believed until that very moment. The implications shocked even herself.
He had spoken with such passion that she considered it confirmation of her own long-fostered doubts. It was an accident, really. She was on an errand and got lost. Lara finally realized that she was supposed to be on the third planetary level not the second; by that time, the meeting would have been long over and Lara was just deciding whether to take the daily nutrition tablet she had in her sleeve and continue on, or return to her father's house when she heard a terrible screech and a crash.
She turned to the doorway whence came the racket and there issued forth a terrible billow of smoke and more screeching. Ducking her head, Lara entered, wondering if there had been some accident where she could be of use. "Almighty Rao must have sent me here," she murmured, extending her collar to cover her mouth, and peering through the haze. She appeared to be in some sort of antechamber, and after entering the only door available and finding it to be a lift that took her upwards, Lara found the smoke only got thicker, and the crashing and banging continued. At last she came to a stop and the doors opened.
Lara looked about her – she was on a high platform, and a wide set of shallow curving steps buried themselves in the floor, continuing downwards toward the noise. "Hello?" Lara called, grasping her skirt and hurrying downwards. Bright lights glared down on her from their mountings on the metal wall, and at last the steps came to an end in a large chamber, filled with smoke and large pieces of advanced machinery. A curving booth was filled screens, the counters beneath covered with tiny amounts of varying metals and liquids, and standing with his back to her by a vent which he was struggling to open, was a man. Lara suddenly felt very foolish; she had been intruding – there was no accident.
She was just about to turn and beat a hasty retreat when the man turned and caught sight of her.
"What are you doing here?" he demanded, pressing a button which slammed down partitions between them and his unfinished work. Fortunately, this also contained some of the smoke, and the two could really see each other for the first time. The man stared at the dark-haired woman, a blush covering her pale cheeks as she looked back at him in consternation; Lara met the eyes of a brown-haired bearded man clad in just his armor suit and a rough tunic which had multiple holed burned through it.
"I'm terribly sorry," Lara said, steadying her voice. "This is quite rude. Only I thought there might have been some sort of accident."
The man furrowed his brow. "Accident""
"There was a huge crash and a deal of smoke on the third level..." Lara trailed off, feeling incredibly silly.
The man's eyebrows lifted, and in the light, she caught a glimpse of his eyes which were a bright blue. "You can hear this on the streets?"
Lara nodded. "I really had no business intruding like this."
The man chuckled. "No, you did not. But thank you, all the same."
Lara turned on the stairs, looking confused. "For what?"
"For telling me. I had no idea that I was being this obvious."
Lara gave the man a long look and finally had to suppress a laugh. "Well, yes, it is very noticeable..."
"I wonder how many other people have noticed," he murmured, pressing a button to lift the door to the booth, and checking one of the screens there which seemed to be regulating levels of different substances interacting together. "Is there anyone in the library?"
"Library?" Lara raised her eyebrows.
"Yes, you would have passed it, it was the room you must have gone into from the street."
Lara admitted, "I didn't notice it was the library, but I didn't see anyone in there."
"Good." The man approached, and bowed. "Forgive me. I am Jor-El. You have just stumbled upon my secret lair."